Sunday, January 30, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The Western Conference is always very competitive, but this year it seems to be even more compact than the last two. The last three years the Lakers basically were guaranteed the top spot with the other seven teams finishing several games back with records that were all very similar. This year, however, the long seasons have taken their toll on the defending champs who are currently sitting six games back from the league best San Antonio Spurs who show no signs of slowing down. As of now the post season match ups would be San Antonio/Portland, Los Angeles/ Denver, New Orleans/Utah, and Oklahoma City/ Dallas. It will be a tight race between the 3-7 seeds till the end with the only X-factor being Melo. If he is traded, a trade that would likely include Billups as well as other role players, Denver would drop out of playoff contention and allow Memphis to move up. That is unless Denver trades Melo to Houston, who’s GM Daryl Morey has been very aggressive in his pursuits for the perennial All Star. Right now, Houston is four games back from the 8 seed, and if they land Anthony they could definitely make a late season push for the playoffs. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that Denver is willing to gamble on convincing Anthony to re-sign.
San Antonio vs. Portland:
Portland has zero chance of an upset here, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, they should be demolishing and rebuilding their team anyway. The Spurs are too disciplined and polished this year to slip out in the first round.
Los Angeles vs. Denver:
This match up could definitely involve a team besides Denver, but again, there will be no upset. The Lakers have their eyes on the prize.
New Orleans vs. Utah:
Now we are getting into the more competitive series. Utah always looks good come post season and they have a rowdy crowd that can intimidate a team on the road. D-Will is having another excellent season as always and Al Jefferson is showing glimpses of the production he had before he blew out his knee. Also, no one likes going against a Jerry Sloan team in the playoffs. That being said, what Monty Williams has done with this New Orleans team in his first year as a head coach is remarkable and he should be a front runner for Coach of the Year. Many people were skeptical of how they would perform this season with Paul having knee surgery and the lack of size with Okafor at center, but they started out as the hottest team in the league at 8-0. They dipped a little after that but are now back and on a 9-0 run. The main key to their success has been stifling defense and if they can keep that up, they will defeat Utah.
Oklahoma City vs. Dallas:
This series is kind of hard to predict right now with Dallas playing as poor as they are. Cuban is always a big player right around the trade deadline and I think possible moves by the Mavs could be the winning factor. OKC is young and relatively inexperienced, but for a team that won only 23 games the year prior, they were ridiculously competitive last year against the Lakers in a first round series. Durant is having an underwhelming season, but Westbrook has more than made up for it with efforts that merit him part of the MVP conversation. I think this could go either way, but I have to give the edge to the Mavericks due to how clutch Dirk is.
San Antonio vs. Dallas/OKC:
Barring injury, San Antonio is going straight to the Western Conference Finals, nothing else to be said.
Los Angeles vs. New Orleans:
I think this will be a tougher series on LA than most people think. Remember, last year they had a few really big breaks to get to the finals. They struggled against the Thunder, and more than struggled against Phoenix. They won game five on an Artest buzzer beater which was obviously not what Phil Jackson had in mind. Let’s be honest, they got lucky on that one. Game six, the clinching game, was a lot less luck and a lot more skill as Kobe single handedly demolished the Suns late in the fourth. As good as I think the Hornets are I believe that the Lakers will once again prove that Kobe and Phil aren’t done yet.
San Antonio vs. Los Angeles:
If it does indeed play out this way, this would be an incredible series. I think there are two main factors in figuring out the outcome though. The first is that so far, San Antonio is playing better than they did in their last two championship years (05, 07), and they are doing it with Tim Duncan playing only 29 minutes due to very productive play by Dejuan Blair. Manu is playing out of his mind and has gone from contending with Jason Terry for the 6th man of the year award to someone who can’t be left out of the MVP conversation. It’s not all star power though, as San Antonio has been the best in the league at finding new young talent late in the draft throughout the R.C. Buford/Popovich era.
The second factor is the miles on the Lakers. They have had three straight years of 100 game seasons, and on top of that, they aren’t exactly spring chickens. This would be their fourth straight shot at a title, something that has only been done four times in the history of the NBA. FOUR TIMES! Twice it was done by Bill Russell’s Celtics who were far superior to anything else in the league at the time, once with Magic’s Lakers, and once with Bird’s Celtics. In the 80’s when Magic and Bird were going to the finals four straight times the league’s competition was lower. There was less middle to upper class tier teams than there are today, which allowed for an easier regular season. I really can’t imagine it happening in this era. I realize that that is not a popular notion and that Kobe is a great competitor and will always play through injuries, but that’s just it, he has been playing through injuries for years. He is worn down. He did a great job in the 2009 offseason on reinventing his game to a more midrange/post up style, but that hasn’t stopped him from having multiple week stretches this year where he is averaging more shot attempts than points.
I see this as an extremely competitive series filled with fantastic basketball, but I think the Spurs will reach the finals where they will meet Boston. If you are a fan of basketball fundamentals and defense like me, this should be a dream matchup.
Very happy to hear Charles Barkley rip into the knucklehead players who lit up Jay Cutler via Twitter during Sunday's NFC title game. Of course it's become downright American to run one's yap based on nothing but opinion while avoiding the facts. Then again you have a bonehead on the radio in Eugene who late in yesterday's show referred to Oregon linebacker Casey and Packer linebacker Clay as cousins. Really Steve? Follow the Ducks much? Follow the NFL much? Perhaps I left my brain in the Valley of the Sun. Guess between those two and the 1st generation, Bruce and the elder Clay, I got confused.
I'd recommend the Lance Armstrong story from the latest Sports Illustrated. It's long and involved and a lot of "he said she said", but tells us alot about what some are willing to overlook or do in the name of winning big and banking big dollars. It's not enlightening and you don't come away with that feeling of redemtion like "Shawshank Redemption", but if you have an interest in steroids or performance enhancers, it's good stuff.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Here's a thought we'll hit on today. Has the NFL become the ultimate "Whose Best Now" league? It's partially true in major league baseball, but look at recent champions and the lack of drama. Lakers, Duke, Auburn, the Blackhawks in the NHL last spring. They weren't complete locks, but once the season took form, it was obvious they were one of the 2-3 teams to beat and finished the deal. Call it parity, watered down, free agent impacted, all of it. The NFL makes you change your mind week to week about who might win on Super Sunday.
As far as the NFC title game, I can't believe how many idiots are questioning Jay Cutler. We're hearing about body language and attitude. I think it's a big, giant bowl of crapola! Either he's in or out. Period! End of list. Have you not watched this guy for 5 years now??? The fiery, heart on sleeve personality isn't his thing. The big question is why did Chicago have a "deer in headlight's" clown like Todd Collins as their back-up? It was obvious Caleb Hanie was more mobile against the Packer rush that was killing Cutler, plus the kid can throw. In a game like this, the coaches must be ready at the snap of a finger to implement Plan B. Awful. Plus it was obvious Cutler didn't have it early on. Kudos to the Packer defense. I mentioned last week how they were the overlooked factor Championship Sunday. Lot of talk obviously about the Pitt, Jet and Chi defense, but no way Green Bay makes it this far without that very athletic, diverse group. Well done. This is an awesome Super Bowl matchup. From my chair, the most intriguing since the Cowboys of Staubach and Steelers following the 1978 season.
We will also hit on the Oregon win at Corvallis on Saturday. Way too many Beaver fans getting way too ahead of themselves about a fair to poor team just because the Ducks are struggling on the hardwood. This was a bad slap of reality to one of the worst D-1 programs in America the past 20+ years.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
On today's show we'll speak with Jason Quick of the Oregonian. He covers the Blazer's beat which is intrigue central these days for many reasons, most of which you'd prefer avoiding. This should be quite the interesting talk with lot's of angles to cover.
I know a bunch of people think LeMarcus Aldridge is all star worthy, but I disagree!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Was anyone else pained at watching Al Davis during the Oakland press conference to announce Hue Jackson as their 83rd coach the past 6 years? I know the guy once set the standard for forward thinking and on field success. Not any more. He comes off as barely coherent and remarkably bitter considering his wealth and 3 Super Bowl trophies. It's not enough to just fire another coach for a situation that's not entirely their fault, but the bad mouthing is classless just as Big Al appears clueless. I actually like Jackson and think his offensive mind is the best in the organization since Jon Gruden left for Tampa after the 2001 season. I just seriously question if Davis will interefere in the damaging manner that has become his recent legacy.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
In the NFC. Aaron Rodgers thumbed his nose at those naysayers who slighted him for his lack of post season success. This was one of the best playoff performances in recent memory. With a so-so running game at best, he was dazzling with 366 pass yards, 3 Td's and only 5 incompletions. He's serving carved Falcon for dinner at his place tonight!
Jay Cutler had a very nice playoff debut and saved the league the embarassment of having a .500 team vie for the NFC crown. The 35-24 final is misleading as Seattle scored 21 mostly useless 4th quarter points. Da Bears outgained them 437 to 276 and chewed up the Seacluck rush attack to the tune of 12 carries for 34 yards. If not for a cement head RB option interception thrown by Matt Forte, this thing looks like the lopsided romp it truly was. So Green Bay and Chicago play for just the 2nd time ever in the post season. A week after the attack on Pearl Harbor Chicago's Sid Luckman led the way in a 33-14 home romp on their way to the NFL championship. Great rivalry, on this kind of stage for the first time in the Super Bowl era. Sweet!
The Pack hits the road as a 3 point chalk while the oddsmakers have installed the Steelers as a field goal favorite to reach their 8th Super Sunday.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Quite the show last night at the new arena. Was great to see Phil Knight grab the mic and speak from the heart. Really added a terrific element. Place is unreal and in case it you missed it, there actually exists a mid court stripe but it was not visable to TV viewers. Nice win for the early part of the Dana Altman era against a solid USC team. Southern Cal had beaten #20 Texas, #18 Tennessee at their place and nearly knocked off 3rd ranked Kansas. They get back to work at 2pm tomorrow at the sweet MKA.
NFL playoffs...PLAYOFFS? Odd fact. Of the 4 match-ups, all are rematches to the extreme that with 2 divisional rivals, you have 6 games already played between the teams involved in the quartet of Super Bowl Tournament affairs. Love divisional weekend. It's a beautiful thing! Enjoy your weekend.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
It's a very interesting circumstance that leads to the opening tip against USC. The Trojans won a nice game at Tennessee prior to the start of league play, then lost the Pac 10 opener in overtime against a very good Washington team. They beat Wazzou 2 nights later and took down cross town rival UCLA last week. This is a new look SC team who can do damage from downtown. They've already hit 98 threes compared to their conference low 107 all of last year. They feature some balanced scoring and keep an eye out on freshman Maurice Jones. #10 is just 5'7, but lightning quick running the point. I'll personally be looking out for #2 Jio Fontan who went to high school in the city where my mom, sister, 5 cousins and I were born, Paterson, New Jersey. He's a junior and their 2nd leading scorer. I'd anticipate their front line will give the smaller Ducks trouble with both Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic go 6'10". They've outboarded their opponent by an average of about 3 a game while the Ducks have been about even-steven at 35 rebounds a game. The Duck big fellas, Joevan Catron in particular, must avoid foul trouble or risk watching his mates get pounded inside. Looking forward to another unique event involving this university. Looking forward to getting back on the air.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Lot's of fun/odd/interesting/unique stories to share. Bit of a frustrating loss. Certainly the officials were way off and I think the pace of both teams contributed. Either way, it was thee GREATEST season on Oregon football history. Lot of fun to follow, cover and from the fans point of view. I think it's a lock the Ducks are the prohibitive favorite to repeat as conference champ and become the first Pac 12 winner ever!
Way too much to catch up on but we'll try and I'm looking for our baseball people to chime in on the laughable decision to elect Bert Blyleven to the Hall of Fame. Roberto Alomar got stiffed last year in his first year of eligibility so he finally got his due.
Hopefully we'll be broadcasting live from the new Matthew Knight Arena in anticipation of a pretty special evening.
Looking forward to speaking with you, drop us a line via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org in the meantime.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Was really pleased with the TCU victory over Wisconsin. Anything that shines the light of ineptitude on the BCS is alright in my book. Let's face it, by the time kickoff surfaced, most I'd spoken to figured this Badger team would push the Horned Frogs all over the place. Didn't happen. So let's get this straight. Utah beat Pitt and Alabama. Boise State beat Oklahoma and now TCU takes out the big bad boys from the Big 10. They did it with a defense that forced 2 drives to stall and settle for field goals. One was made, the other missed meaning UW needed that two pointer that failed in the waning moments.
It pained me to see such an inspired performance by Washington beating Nebraska. I don't buy the "not wanting to be there" garbage. You really think the Cornhusker players rolled over? The Dawgs just outplayed them and designed a sweet plan that allowed them to run the ball and figured out how to limit the damage done by Husker QB Taylor Martinez. It was the 2nd meeting of the season and in both, Jake Locker just stunk throwing the ball. I can't imagine he's even remotely capable of playing the position at the next level. Pac 10 needed that shot in the arm after the way Arizona was handled easily by Oklahoma State. Is Mike Stoops really going to keep that job? What a knucklehead.