the end of the Stackhouse era …I hate to see this, but time waits for no man. As far as I am concerned, Stackhouse is the cajones behind the entire NBA Finals Mavericks squad. When they lacked courage and confidence and the fighting instinct, Stackhouse and even someone like Jet Terry supplied plenty of it. But, it isn’t 2006 anymore…
Also, I am sure you are all looking forward to my views on Cuban’s Insider trading fun, but I will simply say that while I do own stocks, I surely have no knowledge whatsoever on his charges, and therefore will leave it to experts in that sector…
Jerry Stackhouse and his agent are exploring options for a possible departure from the Dallas Mavericks, the result of a turbulent first month of the season in which his playing time and level of performance have dropped dramatically.
Stackhouse did not demand a trade Monday after practice, but he calmly detailed his situation and said that he feels there is plenty of good basketball left in him, too much to be a bit player. He speculated that the end of his Mavericks tenure might be coming soon and that the organization's decision to bring along young players has left him with an uncertain future, given that he will probably be a free agent next summer.
"Sometimes, that cycle comes," Stackhouse said. "When I came to Philadelphia [as a rookie], Jeff Malone was still a very capable player. But they said: 'Jeff, Jerry Stackhouse is the starting shooting guard here, and we're starting over.' He still went and played somewhere for a couple more seasons.
"And you got to start that process sometimes. I'm not mad, and not the first one that the process has started with. It's going to start with some more here before too long."
There are only three ways that Stackhouse and the Mavericks could divorce – either through a trade, by waiving him or by buying out his contract, which is paying him $7 million this season and is partially guaranteed for $2 million next year.
Without consistent playing time, Stackhouse has no way to improve his stock for next summer, when he would be a free agent if the Mavericks waive him.
Stackhouse, 34, knows there is no simple solution. Ideally, he would like to play more with the Mavericks and finish out his contract with the team that acquired him in 2004. But coach Rick Carlisle is committed to bringing along young shooting guards Antoine Wright and Gerald Green, which is eating into Stackhouse's minutes.
"The team is always going to protect itself, so I can't force their hand to do anything," Stackhouse said. "I don't really know all the options right now. It's to the point now where it's time to start researching some things and see if there are some other possibilities that make more sense for me right now."
Stackhouse was put on the inactive list Sunday at New York. He also was held out of another game earlier this month. In the eight games he's played, he's averaged 17.6 minutes, 29.1 percent shooting and 5.3 points.
Stack and his agent work on options …
Jerry Stackhouse is probably going to be a former Maverick before too many more weeks (days?) go by. That will be a sad day for those who have watched him give the Mavericks heart, soul and toughness for the last four years.
Stackhouse also have rehabilitated his image while he's been at Dallas. When he left Washington, he didn't have many friends in many NBA front offices. A lot of people were surprised at how well Stackhouse adapted to a reserve role for the Mavericks. He was the consummate team player.
Hopefully all the work he did to build that reputation won't be lost if the team and the player go through a difficult divorce. Stackhouse said he wants to make any split happen the right way.
"Yeah, it's important for a ton of reasons,'' he said. "I talked with Donnie (Nelson), talked with Mark (Cuban), talked with Rick (Carlisle) about possibly one day coming back here and being part of the coaching staff or the front office with this organization. I'm not going to foil that by my competitiveness. It's just that it might be a better fit elsewhere.''
Neither does Stackhouse carry any bitterness for the way things have transpired early in this season.
"There's nothing promised in this league,'' he said. "We've seen some disappointment the last couple of seasons and I'm confident in Rick and what he's doing with the team that it's going to get back to that level we were a couple years ago. I've accomplished more as a Dallas Maverick than I have anywhere else. And there's always going to be a piece of me that's a Dallas Maverick regardless of what happens from this day on. But as it stands right now, I just think we kind of drifted in different directions.
Meanwhile, The game of the century is Saturday Night in Norman …and Leach knows his way around the town…
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is very familiar with the landscape at Oklahoma. His last assistant coaching job before becoming the head coach at Tech in 2000 was with the Sooners.
Leach spent the 1999 season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for OU in Bob Stoops’ first year as head coach of the Sooners. With Leach calling the plays, the Sooners went from last place to second in the Big 12 in scoring and improved by 134 yards per game in total offense.
Stoops and Leach talked strategy all the time back then.
"Bob would come through the hall and we’d sit down and he’d tell me defensively what he’d be looking for and various different things, so I did think it was valuable," Leach said. "I coached defense at the College of the Desert [in 1988], so I think that was probably really helpful in my career as far as developing as an offensive coach.
"It was a great program [at OU] in that it was exciting to combine what we did offensively with what Bob Stoops did defensively."
Leach and Stoops will face off at 7 p.m. Saturday when the second-ranked Red Raiders (10-0, 6-0 in the Big 12) meet the fifth-ranked Sooners (9-1, 5-1) with all sorts of conference and BCS implications on the line.
Leach was in his second season as the Kentucky offensive coordinator and
quarterbacks coach when he got the call from Stoops to join his staff.
"I was pretty surprised," Leach said. "It all happened pretty fast, though, because he got the job pretty quickly.
"I didn’t have any idea that he’d call me. But I knew him a little."
With Stoops and Leach in ’99, the Sooners won seven games and advanced to a bowl game — the Independence Bowl — for the first time in four years. The next year, Leach left for Tech and OU went 13-0 and won the national championship.
"What I really appreciated with Mike is he does what he does and he does it well,"
Stoops said. "He’s always been very emphatic to be really excellent and good at what you do.
"Not that he doesn’t look for different wrinkles, because he always has added little things. But the meat and potatoes of what he does is still there [today] that was here when we started in ’99."
Leach has never won in Norman
The challenge of beating the Sooners in Norman, Okla., will be a tough one for the Red Raiders,.
Since Bob Stoops became OU’s coach in 2000, the Sooners are 59-2 at home. The losses came against Oklahoma State (16-13) in 2001 and against TCU (17-10) in 2005 when OU was ranked fifth in the country.
"Going in there is a tough place to play, with 90,000 screaming at you," Tech defensive end Jake Ratliff. "I like playing up there, and it’s fun."
Tech is 0-4 at Norman under Mike Leach, losing in 2000 (28-13), ’02 (60-15), ’04 (28-13) and ’06 (34-24).
However, the Red Raiders won last year (34-27) and in ’05 (23-21) in Lubbock, and have won two of the past three games in the series.
"You just go in and play the best you can," Leach said. "I think everybody is more comfortable at home, and then also I think the noise is more of a distraction to the [visiting] guys."
Tech is playing a large game Saturday …
And now, with the Big 12 South title and their improbable BCS championship hopes on the line, no one is giving the No. 2 Red Raiders much of a chance of winning Saturday night at No. 5 Oklahoma, where they never have won under coach Mike Leach.
Leach, who prefers pirates and Geronimo to country clubs and fine wines, wouldn't have it any other way.
Even though Oklahoma has a more storied tradition and usually has better players, the Red Raiders have beaten the Sooners twice in the past three seasons. Last season, Texas Tech beat Oklahoma 34-27 in Lubbock, knocking Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion.
Beating Oklahoma for the third time in four seasons figures to be much more difficult. The Red Raiders are 0-4 in games played at Oklahoma under Leach. The Sooners have a 59-2 record at home in 10 seasons under coach Bob Stoops and are averaging 50.2 points per game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium this season.
Never before has Texas Tech played a game with so much at stake. If the Red Raiders beat the Sooners, they'll win the Big 12 South and guarantee themselves a chance to play Missouri in the Dec. 6 Big 12 championship game in Kansas City. Beating Oklahoma and then Baylor at home next week also would keep Texas Tech alive in the BCS championship race.
Texas Tech has to beat Oklahoma, which has never been easy, to accomplish any of it.
"It's tough to win there, you know?" Leach said. "They're a good team, and they're well coached. We can't worry about what everybody else thinks. We've got to focus on what we're doing and go out and do the best we can."
Leach said beating Oklahoma, which has won four games in a row since losing to Texas 45-35 on Oct. 11, is Texas Tech's biggest challenge so far.
That sentence above that I put in bold seems a bit silly, no? 3 weeks ago they played the #1 team in the country. Wasn't that as big as this? If they lose that game, this game doesn't mean anything, right?
Michael Lombardi with an amusing quick-hit on the Cowboys….
Great win for Dallas last night. Many players have told me that the last week in Big D was a circus like atmosphere, as there is always something going on for promotions of the new stadium during the practice. The focus is never just about the game, it’s about the selling of the game.
Mac Engle on Romo’s return …
Tony Romo walked through a celebratory locker room carrying an iPod that blared the song "Burning Heart" by the band Survivor.
"In the warriors code — there’s no surrender,
Though his body says stop — his spirit cries — never!"
Full disclosure: This corn-ball song was written for the movie
Rocky IV, but it says something about the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.
Not only is his musical taste rooted in aged 1980s cheese (see, Journey), but much like with the Cowboys, he also can bring back bands thought to be long since dead, and songs that are better served for Rocky flying over to then-Communist Russia to fight Ivan Drago.
"It was great to have him back," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the Cowboys’ 14-10 win at Washington on Sunday night. "He adds confidence to our team."
Without Romo, the Cowboys looked and often played like a team that had the confidence of a squad headed to the top of the draft. That believed a margin, no matter how small, was too big to overcome. Although he was far from his best, just the presence of Romo seemed to change things for a team that was in desperate need of a boost.
"It just shows he’s our franchise," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "Not just as far as making throws and all that; I think more importantly the leadership and keeping everybody upbeat and the tempo that we play with. That goes a long way, especially in those big games."
There is also some more good news: The splint that supports Romo’s broken right pinkie and forces him to change the way he grips the football might only be on for one more game. Two, tops.
"The adrenaline of the game is a great equalizer when you have things banged up or hurting," Romo said after the game. "I always felt if I could kind of do it during the week I would be able to do it in the game."
He did kind of do it. Romo was effective, but he was not quite the same passer he had been in Weeks 1 through 3.
Romo and the Cowboys won despite scoring 14 points. He was far from sharp and was intercepted twice. But the Cowboys finally began looking like themselves again.
"He affects the game. He affects our players. He affects our attitude about what we can and can’t do when we got behind 7-0," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "I don’t think it bothered anybody that we got behind. We felt like we could score. I think it affects decisions of the game that sometimes you don’t see. And just his enthusiasm. His confidence, his calls."
This week’s look at the stretch run on the schedule is below. I have taken New York off the table because they appear to be free and clear to win the division.
Philadelphia is temporarily off the list as well, but could re-emerge later. The following are the top 4 teams in the Wildcard race. The thing to keep in mind here is that only two will make the playoffs…
|12||SF||@ Det||Car||@ Sea|
|14||@ Pitt||@ Car||@ NO||@ Balt|
|15||NYG||@ ATL||TB||@ Cin|
|17||@ Phil||Oak||ST L||@ SF|
Coldplay is in Dallas tomorrow night. You may have to sue me, because I am fired up….