Here are some Wednesday morning links for your reading pleasure….muchas cosas interesantes aqui.
Jerry talks…sort of …
The Cowboys' owner and general manager said Tuesday he is more disappointed about the ending of the 2008 season than what happened the previous year.
And with all the problems the Cowboys have inside their locker room, Jones is determined to solve them and get his team back to the postseason.
"We can look up here and see a 9-7 team [Arizona] that has a chance to win the world championship," Jones said following practice for college players preparing for Saturday's Senior Bowl. "That's not much consolation when you're a 9-7 team and not get in the playoffs."
When the Cowboys' playoff hopes ended with a loss to Philadelphia in the final regular-season game, Jones talked about making changes.
Jones would not say what those changes would be, but indicated he is evaluating every aspect of the organization.
"I am very aware that we have the visibility that we have," Jones said. "With all of that goes a lot of criticism. Not just a teaspoonful but a large amount of criticism. It's structured that way."
According to multiple sources, there is an accountability problem inside Valley Ranch from players being late to meetings and team charters, and not respecting each other or coaches.
With everything he's put into the team financially and emotionally, does Jones feel let down by his players?
"I don't really look at it as you stepped on my toes or something happened to me," he said. "When we end the season like we ended it or when we are disappointed, I am fully aware of who is going to get the criticism. It's coming just as sure as the sun comes up, and that's part of what gives you the incentive."
Jones would not address whether his team has chemistry issues or the status of wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is due a $3.1 million roster bonus in the spring, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett or coach Wade Phillips, who enters the final year of his contract.
Jones, however, said he's excited about looking at college players and trying to determine what to do with his nine draft choices.
The team must address the possible departures of starting defensive end Chris Canty and starting inside linebacker Zach Thomas to free agency.
"That just goes with it," Jones said of decisions and dealing with criticism. "When we left Philadelphia, I knew how this off-season was going to be."
And offers a nugget about Roy38 …
The Cowboys could keep safety Roy Williams. We think.
Jerry Jones said the team is evaluating Williams' status. There is growing speculation the team could release him. But, Jones hinted that Williams could get a position change. Maybe to linebacker.
"We always thought he was really, at any time be an impact player up near the line and certainly when you're talking about putting pressure on a team, we've always thought he was capable of doing that," Jones said.
Today in “what happened to our QB?” talk….
His puzzling comments in a Wisconsin paper that prove he wasn’t in despair when he said this a month ago after the Philadelphia loss …
Romo accepts the reality that it all starts with the quarterback. And if anyone wants to paint over him with the stroke of a “can’t-win-the-big-one” brush, he can deal with it.
“No, it’s not hard,” he said when asked how he felt about the criticism. “You never win the big one until you win the big one. Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin were fired before they ended up going on their playoff run last year and winning the Super Bowl. Three games before the playoffs, neither one of them were coming back.
“So, believe me, the NFL is such a reality show. Week to week, you’re the best player in the league to the worst player in the league. It all depends on what you’ve done for me lately. That’s part of the game and you understand that.
“If I’m never going to win the Super Bowl, I’ll be content in life. I’ll be disappointed because that’s what I wanted to do. At that same point, it’s not going to be something that makes me a better human being.
“I think I’m going to work very hard to try to obtain those goals. But I’m not going to pretend to say that that’s what life’s all about either.”
And then. Calvin Watkins on Romo laughing at Owens
Report from Senior Bowl …
Mike Maddux kicks tires on his young pitchers …and get this…he is excited about what he sees!
I always wait for a new coach to say he hates what he sees after a get-together like this….still waiting…
For many of the Texas Rangers' pitching prospects, including highly touted starters Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz, this week was the first chance to dig into the rubber at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers hope members of this group – 19 pitchers in all – return to Arlington in the near future as homegrown pitching talent that helps transform the franchise into a contender.
But that's not the immediate concern for pitching coach Mike Maddux. He just wanted to meet as many of the organization's pitchers as he could before spring training begins Feb. 14 in Surprise, Ariz. – and see their throwing motions.
Maddux liked what he saw.
"I'm a little excited," Maddux said. "Here we are in January, and the guys are already out here willing to get after it and that's the first step. It's good to lay your eyes on them.
"You can hear all the rhetoric and read all the periodicals, but until you can put a name to the face and an arm to the face, you don't know what you have. What I'm seeing right now, it looks pretty good. A lot of them seem to have a lot of tenacity, and I think some of these guys are going to come pretty quick."
In Mavs news, Stein on a Josh trade of the week ….
And as stated above, sources indicate that there are other teams in contention for Marion, most notably Dallas in a trade that would feature Josh Howard going to Miami for Marion.
Yet it remains to be seen (a) whether Miami ultimately decides that it would rather gamble on O'Neal's vulnerable right knee in spite of his Toronto's struggles because quality centers are harder to find and (b) whether Dallas is prepared to surrender Howard for Marion and risk losing Marion without compensation this summer.
Howard obviously isn't a center, but the 28-year-old would appear to fit better alongside Wade and rookie Michael Beasley than Marion, since he wouldn't cut into Beasley's minutes at power forward like Marion sometimes does.
Howard also has a contract that fits into Miami's long-range plans, with a salary of $10.4 million this season, $11.4 million next season and a team option for 2010-11 at $12.3 million. Acquiring Howard now would give the Heat almost a season and a half to gauge how he functions as a Wade sidekick, with no obligation to slice into their future salary-cap space if they don't like how it looks.
Because its original three-way deal with Charlotte and Oklahoma City featuring Raymond Felton unraveled last week, Dallas still has Jerry Stackhouse's virtual expiring contract ($7 million this season, only $2 million guaranteed next season) to facilitate such a swap. A package of Howard and Stackhouse works for Marion cap-wise.
From Miami Herald …
As the Miami Heat continues to consider a deal for Jermaine O'Neal, Miami has been giving thought to other Shawn Marion trade scenarios, including one involving Dallas small forward Josh Howard, according to an official involved in the Marion discussions. Several teams have inquired about Marion, who's unlikely to re-sign here, but it's not certain a deal will happen.
The Heat considers center its No. 1 need and O'Neal as the best center available but remains concerned about his sore right knee (which has sidelined him 11 games this season) and the $23 million he's due in 2009-10, the last year of his contract. It's 50-50 whether Miami will accept Toronto's offer of O'Neal for Marion and Marcus Banks, the official said. The O'Neal camp is optimistic it will happen.
The Heat is studying at least three other options, with Dallas confirmed to be among them. The Heat and Mavericks spoke about a four-team deal that would have brought Howard here, but that was sidetracked when Dallas sent DeSagana Diop to Charlotte. But the Heat remains intrigued by Howard, who's due $10.8 million in 2009-10 and has a team option for $11.8 million in 2010-11. Dallas would need to add at least one other player for cap reasons.
Here is someone taking the time to actually write about the Diop trade …
I have some fond memories of the Mavs’ 2006 run to the Finals, and there is no doubt that DeSagana Diop was an essential cog in that team. But when the two-headed center that the Mavs employed suddenly transformed into a one headed center tied to a head-shaped doorstop, things got ugly. So from Dallas’ perspective, it makes perfect sense to ship Diop to Charlotte in exchange for Matt Carroll and contract filler Ryan Hollins.
Dirk and Brandon Bass both present considerable defensive problems when they’re forced to defend the post. That’s where Diop was supposed to add to this Mavericks team. Needless to say, that hasn’t exactly been the case. Diop is one helluva soldier in regard to his unwillingness to act up or cause problems when faced with limited playing time, but unfortunately, that is where my compliments of Diop’s season end. He’s always been an offensive liability and it seemed like his D had finally caught up. He struggled to defend stronger foes and really has problems with the pick and roll. He doesn’t have the foot speed to keep up with centers when they step out, and watching him try to guard a point guard on the switch is a bit like watching a cat chase his own tail. It’s harsh, I know, but the time for niceties is long past for the Mavs. Now, it’s about finding the right guys for Coach Carlisle’s attack, and that directive is executed beautifully with the acquisition of Matt Carroll.
Dirk, Jason Terry, and Jason Kidd are excellent at opening up the corners for their teammates. Devean George (28.9%), James Singleton (14.3%), Gerald Green (29.4%), and Antoine Wright (25.6%)have gotten plenty of open looks from the corners. And plenty of those opportunities have ended up with a shot that makes me vomit in my mouth, ever so slightly. Green could get there, and damn do I want him to, but for the time being he’s a sparkplug at best and a ‘factory which has the sole purpose of manufacturing turnovers’ at worst. The rest of the crew ain’t bad (Well, except for Singleton. Sweet rebounder, but I wouldn’t mind if I never saw him take another three.), but they’re not good enough for a team that wants to shoot as often as the Mavs do. The idea is that with Carroll in the corners, the offense could really open up. He’s having a down year that would make Larry Hughes blush, but he’s also a career 40.3% shooter from deep — nothing to scoff at.
The perk of this trade is that there is virtually no downside. Diop was playing marginal minutes anyway, and a combination of Bass and Singleton will likely fill in the gaps.
Remember Pittsnogle? …
There is a middle school up the hill from the McDonald’s here, and behind it are several classroom trailers, the type that are added when space gets tight and are never taken away.
Inside one of the trailers last Friday stood a tall man with a familiar face. He wore a Bugs Bunny tie and a gray dress shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows. Tattoos spilled to his wrists. He spoke kindly to two of his special education students, who called him Mr. Pittsnogle.
On the inside of the door was a sign: “You are who you choose to be.”
For now, this is who Kevin Pittsnogle chooses to be.
Less than four years ago, he was a basketball star and a folk hero, a homegrown kid
with a funny name, a bowl haircut, a 6-foot-11 frame covered in tattoos, and a baby-soft 3-point shot. During West Virginia’s unexpected thrill ride to the
quarterfinals of the 2005 N.C.A.A. tournament, his name became a taunting verb: you’ve been Pittsnogled. His mother still has a box of the T-shirts in a closet.
Less than three years ago, Pittsnogle was an all-American senior averaging 19.3 points who led West Virginia to the 2006 regional semifinals. He expected to be chosen in the N.B.A draft. He was not.
Now, at 24, he is a middle school teacher in his hometown. He is also an unpaid assistant coach for a high school basketball team. He bowls in leagues three nights a week and occasionally plays bingo at Big Bucks Bingo. His wife, Heather, is a bank teller. They have two children and live in a double-wide trailer, and together they wonder how much appetite they have for uprooting their lives again so Pittsnogle can have one more chance at a basketball career.
His more immediate concern is to graduate special education students into regular classes.
You are who you choose to be.
“I wasn’t supposed to do anything else but basketball, I think, in everybody else’s mind,” Pittsnogle said.
Most students see him mostly as the tall new teacher. Outside of school, though, he signs autographs and draws stares from long distances. Last fall, he attended a West Virginia football game in Morgantown with the Hedgesville High School basketball coach, Kelly Church, who made Pittsnogle an assistant.
“It’s like walking through a mall with Santa Claus a week before Christmas,” Church said.
Matt Carroll mixtape – language warning on the soundtrack
Ryan Hollins mixtape from UCLA