Monday, April 02, 2007

What a Week

We are finally here. The first week in April is here. Allow me to preview briefly what is on our sports plate this week, aside from the normal Stars/Mavs schedules we have been dealing with…

The NCAA Final – Florida v Ohio State
Opening Day – Rangers v Angels, 9:05

Champions League Round of 8
Liverpool at PSV, 1:30 ESPN 2
Bayern Munich at AC Milan
The Shield – Season Premier, 9
Rangers v Angels, 9:05

Manchester United at Roma, 1:30 ESPN2
Valencia at Chelsea
Rangers v Angels, 2:35

Day 1 of the Masters
NCAA Frozen Four Semifinals
Maine v Michigan State, 3 – ESPN
Boston College v North Dakota, 7 – ESPN

Opening Day Red Sox at Rangers, 1:05
Day 2 of the Masters
Ducks at Stars (for Division title?)

Day 3 of the Masters
NCAA Frozen Four Final
UFC 69 in Houston
FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake (I wonder about putting this on the list, as the season opener appears to have NO local tv or radio coverage!)

Day 4 of the Masters
Final Day of the NHL Season

Wow. That is just a brilliant sports week.

A real fascinating NCAA Final tonight

The Florida Gators and the Ohio State Buckeyes have built a rivalry in 100 days.
It was born Dec. 23 in Gainesville, Fla., when the Florida basketball team defeated Ohio State by 26 points.

It grew Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz., when the Florida football team defeated Ohio State by 27 points.

And it will turn 100 days old when the Gators and the Buckeyes meet Monday night for college basketball’s national championship, having met less than three months ago for college football’s national championship.

Ron Lewis, Ohio State’s senior guard, set the backdrop for the game Sunday afternoon, claiming that the Buckeyes were great and the Gators were simply good.
Never mind that Florida has blown out Ohio State in both major sports and holds both national titles. Lewis, like most of central Ohio, is sick of bowing down to the Gators.

Florida’s natural rival is Florida State. Ohio State’s natural rival is Michigan. The Buckeyes and the Gators play in different conferences and recruit different areas.

But they keep getting thrown together on the largest stages in college sports. As a result, they have developed a healthy hatred for each other in record time.
When Lewis was asked Sunday why he does not consider Florida one of the greats, he said with a smile: “They’re a good team to me. That’s all I can say about it.”
One of Lewis’s close friends happens to be Ted Ginn Jr., the former Ohio State receiver, who started the national championship game against Florida with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

As Ginn crossed the goal line, the Ohio State basketball team was in Wisconsin, riding a bus to the team hotel. Players cheered wildly on the bus.

But when they made it to the hotel and went into a conference room to watch the game on television, they learned that Ginn’s teammates had injured him in the celebration. Florida reeled off seven of the next eight touchdowns.

“We felt sorry for those guys,” said Mike Conley Jr., the Ohio State point guard. “We wanted to get a chance at Florida again. We want to win for our football team.”

I have to go with Florida – but I am hoping for some great drama…

Watch this gold, if you haven’t seen it…


Meanwhile, here are the Dallas Mavericks getting drilled in Phoenix in a very healthy fashion …I didn’t find myself too overly concerned with what happened --- but, I am more interested in Dirk’s ankle again.

It just goes to show you, that no matter how good the season looks, no matter how well the Mavericks play, and no matter how many games the Mavericks might be up on a team, the whole season can swing on one Dirk ankle.

The Suns came into the latest chapter of the NBA's most exciting rivalry needing to win for their mental welfare, not to mention their Western Conference standing. The Mavericks maintained all along this game matters little down the road.

So after the Suns took a shockingly easy 126-104 win at a playoff-frenzied US Airways Center and knotted the regular-season series 2-2, what really changed?
"That's all it is, a season series, and we split," Jerry Stackhouse said. "It
doesn't have anything to do with much. We still have a pretty comfortable lead. We just have to go out and close out the regular season the way we should, and we'll see what happens.

"We know this is a team we could very well face again, but a lot has to happen for that to happen, on our side and their side. So it's been some great games, but unfortunately for us, they won the last couple. I'm sure their confidence is high about matching up with us, but we know we're better than what we showed."

Can it be summed up better? Despite having their nine-game winning streak snapped, the Mavs (61-12) hold a six-game lead for the No. 1 playoff seed over Phoenix (55-18) with nine games left.

The Suns, though, own two wins over the Mavs sandwiched around a 4-4 stretch in the span of 18 days. Considering the West leaders have three losses since Jan. 27, it's understandable why Steve Nash said his team has regained a level of confidence in recent weeks.

"Not just for Dallas, just because we need that [confidence] back," Nash said. "Since the last time we played them, we've been inconsistent and disappointing. We need to start stringing some performances together to help that good feeling."

Phoenix did that Sunday by beating the Mavs to the punch. Avery Johnson accused his team of not showing up and not concentrating, all the while complimenting the Suns on executing their game plan.

"They deserved to win," the Mavs coach said.

Nash orchestrated another superb floor game, working the pick-and-roll to perfection. Open looks were there for everyone, as the small-ball Suns had four players score at least 20 -- Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Leandro Barbosa and Nash -- and shot 64.8 percent from the floor, the best single-game mark in the NBA this season. "They really had us going both ways," Dirk Nowitzki said. "Everybody was really struggling. To allow 50 points in the paint, we never really found a way to contain their offense."

Nowitzki never found his, missing 12 of 18 shots, but the Mavs were down just five (93-88) with 9 1/2 minutes left. Shooting flurries from Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Terry helped offset Nowitzki's struggles, and it appeared another close finish was in the works, just like the previous three meetings.
But it never happened. A 9-1 spurt built on a Barbosa 3-pointer, and six points coming in the paint, pushed the Suns' lead up to 102-89, and the Mavs never threatened again.

So, now what do we do for the next 2 ½ weeks as we wait for the playoffs?

The Stars had a remarkable weekend and certainly deserve all the credit in the world for grabbing wins in Detroit and Nashville….Now, we see that they have four games left:

H – St Louis
A – Columbus
H – Anaheim
H – Chicago

And if they win all 4, they win the Pacific Division and get the #2 seed.

The carrot of another Pacific Division title continues to dangle tantalizingly in front of the Stars as they head down the stretch toward the Stanley Cup playoffs.
And while there is a real chance they won't get to take a chomp of the tasty treat, the darn thing sure seems to be making this team run a lot faster.

Dallas is 10-1-1 in its last 12 games, is coming off of two road wins in two of the NHL's toughest cities to play in and is scoring goals at a season-best clip of 3.75 per game. The Stars have outscored the opposition, 45-27, in the last 12 games and have hit on 15 of 69 power plays (21.7 percent).

"It feels good," said center Mike Modano, who has been on his hottest streak of the
season with eight goals and five assists during that span. "It feels like we're getting to where we should be."

But Anaheim is on a 10-3-1 roll, and San Jose is 9-1-1 over its last 11 games. That means the Stars could finish with a flurry and still finish fifth in the Western Conference.

"Four out of four points is a really good weekend," Stars forward Stu Barnes said of Friday's 4-3 shootout win against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena and a convincing 4-2 victory against a well-rested Predators team at a hostile Nashville Arena on Saturday night. "But you look around, and everybody around is winning, so we have to keep winning too."

The Stars control their own destiny. If they win their final four games, including their matchup with the Ducks in regulation Friday at American Airlines Center, they will win the Pacific Division. Dallas could then finish no worse than tied with Anaheim and would have more wins, giving it the tiebreaker. The Stars would get the second seed in the Western Conference playoffs and would start the first round at home, most likely a week from Wednesday.

If the Stars don't win the Pacific, they still could catch Nashville for fourth place in the West, but they would need the Predators to get no more than three points in their last three games. Of course, the Stars could finish fifth, sixth or seventh if they play .500 hockey or worse in the season's final stretch.

Here is why I have no time for Roy Williams anymore. Newy wrote a story about Roy this weekend

He was in good spirits and is thrilled to have Wade Phillips on board. In his mind, Phillips is heaven-sent, a coach who believes in pressuring the quarterback, a coach who will take the shackles off.

"Honestly, it's been a long time coming," he said. "I haven't been having too much fun. I feel like the last three or four years have been frustrating."

Smart coaching is about knowing the warts in a player's game and hiding them. Bill Parcells failed Williams. Playmakers need to make plays. Playing closer to the line of scrimmage is the bread and butter for Williams.

What Roy won't do is say anything negative about Parcells, an old-school coach who'd rather lose doing things his way than change his blueprint to fit his talent.
As the Cowboys gave up 153 points in the final five games last season, Williams was portrayed as an unreliable safety.

"I know a lot of people say I don't cover... I don't do this, I don't do that," Williams said. "They don't understand the scheme of our defense. When it looks like I'm getting 'burned,' that's not my job to take that player."

Is he kidding? When it looks like he was getting burned it wasn’t his fault? What a leader of men. What a stand up guy. Way to face the music, Roy.
One question. When you let Shaun Alexander run through your tackle in Seattle on the most crucial play of the game, who can we blame?

Joe Sheehan knows baseball. And for some reason, he has the Rangers as the fourth best team in baseball

#4: Texas Rangers, 89-73, first in AL West, 868 RS, 788 RA. The Rangers’ problem last year wasn’t pitching, it was scoring. Read that again. The team was 11th in the AL in Equivalent Average, as Hank Blalock and Brad Wilkerson formed the most disappointing pair of lefties since Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. Even stars Mark Teixeira and Michael Young had years that looked better on the surface, loaded with hits and homers and RBI, then they actually were as measured by more advanced metrics. This year, the pitching should still be fine again, highlighted by what should be a terrific bullpen if Eric Gagne stays healthy, and a good one if he doesn’t. Where the improvement lies is at the plate; the Rangers are a bit the opposite of the Twins and Blue Jays in that you can project gains at many offensive slots. The defense, now featuring Kenny Lofton, will not be an asset, so watch the strikeout rates as a key indicator of run prevention.

Me? I don’t know what to think. I hope the Rangers stay in the mix so that we have something to watch this summer. They seem to have many holes, but I guess everyone does. Here is my AL West:

1 - Angels
2 – Rangers
3 – A’s
4 – Mariners

Listen to a

The history of the 40

Paul Brown, founder of two NFL franchises, is credited with many innovations, from the playbook to the draw play to a radio in a quarterback's helmet. In addition to his on-the-field successes, Brown's off-the-field ideas played a part in his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Another of Brown's legacies is the 40-yard dash.

Coaching at Ohio State in the 1940s, Brown was looking for players to cover punts. He figured the average punt traveled 40 yards, so he had his players timed. The fastest covered punts.

Some 60 years later, the 40 remains one of the most important tools in professional football, serving as a way to compare running backs, receivers, tight ends and offensive linemen to defensive backs, linebackers and defensive linemen.
In the early '60s, the Cowboys began timing college players in the 40 in the evaluation process.

"Our biggest thing was we had to get accurate information into the computer, so the more information you got the better results you got," former Cowboys personnel director Gil Brandt said. "So we had a chart made up that if a player was X height and ran a 4.45 he'd get 40-plus points. If a player was X height and ran a 4.6, he might get 10-plus points. To me, what the [40] does is it becomes something of a tiebreaker or it's something that alerts you to a player that can be pretty good."

Just because you won the NIT doesn’t mean they will spell your T-shirt correctly

Great E-Mail:

Dear Bob,

Quite a while ago @ the HBO Entourage watching party @ Park Place Mercedes. I got to meet Mike Modano. I had seen him earlier in the evening and instead of just running up and saying hey Mike "I think you're awesome!", instead I waited until I had a rock-solid opening. My wife, who is a hot, was asked to get a pic taken with Mike. This all happening while I was @ the head. When I got back she was so overjoyed @ the fact she got a pic taken with the second hottest guy in Dallas. So I said since you guys are such good friends, introduce me. The time finally came when I got to meet Mikey-Mo. I was so excited! As wifey sets the stage I go into my
perfectly rehearsed lines. "Hey Mike, first I would like to say I'm a P-1. Growing up in Canada did you ever play Rugby? They are so much alike I just wondered what you thought about how the two sports were similar." He gave me a blank puzzled stare. Quickly realizing my faux pas, I continued to vomit out nonsense. He continues his very puzzled stare. My wife, the great woman she is freed me from my prison. She quickly changed the subject and brought Mike back to reality. Me on the other hand I was sick. I felt like a red hot match. I was so embarrassed. The party went on, me downing a few more cocktails all the while beating myself up over my stupidity. As Mike was leaving the venue he happened to pass through the crowd passing me and said, "Hey Jack it was nice meeting you. Have a good night." I almost pooped. Not only did I say the dumbest thing, but he remembered my name. This was a long time ago and I still don't like to talk about it, but I thought it was time to set the record straight. I listen everyday and
thought that it might be funny when you have him on during the road trip, or even just at one of the team dinners you might ask him about it. I will try to call the station because I would like to get on the radio with him to see his reaction to the most spare fan in Dallas.

Sounds Good.


Sopranos in 7 minutes

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Evan said...

Live Ultimate fight night and season 5 premier of TUF on Thursday. DVR explodes in April. Keep sports happy.

Sounds good

P1 Evan

artfromtex said...

Roy, the first step is admitting that you have a problem. Admit you have the coverage skills of John Candy and let the healing begin.



Brandon said...

I'm a good strong Sooner.

But Roy's whining about getting criticized for blown coverages is giving me tired head.

Look Roy, sometimes in football you have to provide help coverage when another teammate blows coverage. That happens at all levels of football, so you should be used to your responsibilities by now.

artfromtex said...

almost forgot! congrats to West Vagina!!!


Robert Stoops said...

Are the run and gun teams the Mavs kryptonite? I fear the Phoenix and the Golden State in the playoffs --- both of which the Mavericks could realistically play.

Or is it the vengeance against Cuban factor? Anyone that that Cuban pissed off wants retribution? I.e Nellie, Nash... Donald Trump next?

I love you.

CFB123 said...

I'm just hoping that Ohio State can keep it a bit closer tonight than they did in Glendale. If they lose tonight, they are officially Florida's b*tch.

Note to Roy Williams: It's time to put up or shut up. Nobody is buying your act anymore. All you ever did was freelance at OU. While that may have worked there, it sure as hell won't work in the NFL. Get a grip, shut your mouth, and start getting it done on the field.

Brad said...

Finally getting rid of the beating that is NCAA tournament talk today. Thank you sports gods.

If anyone has seen the Mavericks transition defense, please contact the proper authorities.

Go Stars. Look for me tonight Bob, I'll be the one with the Stars jersey on

mrowlou said...

so you include the VERY over-rated Shield in your sports week, but no Entourage and Sopranos? BLASPHEMY!

Andy Douthitt said...

Another Sooner goodstrong...

Roy Williams is killing me. When he was at OU, most of the Big 12 he played ran schemes that were fairly basic. (ex: KU, Baylor, Iowa St, even UT back then, remember Chris Simms?, maybe Tech switched it up a bit).

Ever since he made the leap up, he is in over his head. Dude, you are not top tier. Face it. You are not the face of the franchise any more either. Sorry but back when we needed to sell this team during the Quincy, chutch, Rocket days, you were it, but now you are not. Stop being a bitch. You are making us Sooner fans even mad at you dude. Man up and start playing like a player that makes the money you do.

Jonathan said...

No offense Bob, but I find it a little strange that ESPN is showing Liverpool/PSV instead of Bayern/AC Milan. I guess I just pissed that Setanta costs $12 a month. I can't justify getting it without watching a fair amount of Rugby.

And no mention of the Liverpool destruction of Arsenal over the weekend?

Robert said...

Ken Hamlin will help keep Roy from exposing his ass on the field. Now he needs some duct tape to keep him from exposing it to reporters.

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