Friday, January 26, 2007

Gasol

Many rumors flying about the 7'0" Spaniard. I do hope the Bulls give it a good effort. Gasol certainly gives them the low post scorer they need. However, I do not think it is worth destroying the core of this team. Do not include Deng or Gordon. In fact, make a statement that these are the two core players you will build around. Make it your Jordan/Pippen combo of the future. Obviously, neither come close to the game of either MJ or Pip, but they both flash superstar capability.

There is a reason Hollinger just named Gordon as one of his two picks to the All Star squad. He has one of the true great jump shots in the league. This allows him to take his shot quickly, unaltered. That is why he seems so clutch late in the game. It is because the high arc stays the same when everyone is tired.

The trade to offer is PJ Brown, Noc, Duhon, and the Knicks pick. This is a very good offer for the Grizzlies. They would get a solid point guard in Duhon who helps run the court. He is an unselfish player and does all the small things. I have to think Jerry West likes his style. They get two expiring contracts in Brown and Noc. They can decide if they want to keep Nocioni or sign another free agent this summer. Of course, they get a chance for a top pick. It is still possible this could turn into a shot at the Durant/Oden sweepstakes.

The Bulls would be the best team in the East on paper. A starting five of Hinrich, Thabo (Gordon still better off bench player), Deng, Gasol, and Big Ben would have strengths in every category. Losing the grit and tough mindset of Nocioni would hurt. I love what he brings to the team and I know Skiles and Paxson feel the same way. The positives that Gasol bring completely outweigh that, though. Also, we cannot think about the "what if" on the draft pick. The team does not need to get any younger. In fact, if it turns into one of those two, who cares? How long before either of them is even as good as Gasol is now? Plus, remember it was a throw in for Curry.

If this is not the trade, then I hope the Bulls do not do it. The only other way I could see doing it is with the same players above but instead of Duhon, you give Tyrus in exchange for Hakim Warrick. I love Tyrus but getting Warrick and Gasol back is worth losing his potential. I am nervous every day until Feb 22nd that I will hear Gordon is heading to Memphis. Your choices have been good so far Pax, please keep it up.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gross Travels

So I am pretty regular traveler. Some of the things I have seen and heard leave me hardly respecting the human race anymore. I also do not question things because I have just become used to many things. However, I felt the need to share a story about a recent encounter.

I was in the Detroit Metro Airport last Friday night. Not exactly the most hip place for a 25 year old but that is besides the point. I had a little over an hour so I sit down at the gate and start to read my book. I soon take notice why the seat was so available.

A young woman who I would say was in her mid to late twenties was in her own world. She had absolutely no care for those around her. Of course, she had her IPOD cranked up AND was yapping on her cell phone with one of her girlfriends. I hate when people do either loudly in public. She felt the need for both, simultaneously.

All of this is fairly common in today's world. Annoying, but not that huge of a deal. She apparently became bored with the music and friend combo so started fishing through her belongings for another option. Bingo! She decided to pull out nail clippers. Yes, she began clipping her fingernails right there in the airport. When that was completed, out came the file. After about 10 minutes of touching up, she calmly brushed all the trimmings on the ground.

I have certainly never been mistaken for a neat freak but do care about personal hygiene. This is not France. I have a hard time deciding where to do this in my own house let alone in an airport! I really wanted to say something but decided it was probably best to ignore her plus I was exhausted from two days of traveling. Please, keep your personal hygiene to a specialzed shop or your own bathroom.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

76ers

This is a developing story in the NBA about a declining franchise. They have made some extremely poor signings in recent years, leaving them with heavy contracts and a severe lack of talent. See Willie Green and Steven Hunter as ways to steal money from the NBA. The team has won 9 games and currently sits tied for last place in the NBA.

They dumped Iverson for Miller (now on his 5th NBA Team) and two future first round picks. Getting the picks is a decent move but the Nuggets figure to be solid with Carmelo and AI so how good is questionable. Now they are supposed to be finalizing a buyout with Webber. This makes sense had they done it last year but his contract expires at the end of this year, so again a little puzzling.

Now, I finally see what Billie King is up to! It is reminiscent of some moves then-Cavaliers GM Jim Paxson made a few years ago. Remember him dumping Person, Andre Miller (funny how things come full circle), Nailon and others in the 2002 and 2003 seasons? It made sense as they were mailing in as many envelopes they could for the "Lebron Sweepstakes". Well, it appears the Sixers are doing the same thing for Greg Oden.

They are making every attempt to mail in the season and pray for the top pick. Don't believe me, go to the Sixers homepage. Yes, they have a gospel singer, Tonex, as the first thing you see. King and others really are saying their nightly prayers for the big man from Ohio State. They would have a solid team to build around him, Iguodala, and maybe even Korver. Although Korver makes too much money, his shot would be very helpful in developing Oden. This would give them an inside/outside combo and the new AI (Iguodala) to slash. They could keep Miller, who is signed through '09, to run the whole show.

This would make them a solid team in the East in a few years. It is the only hope for turning an abysmal future into a bright spot. Expect this team to make a couple more trades or dumps to rid themselves of a few more dollars. While a huge gamble, as it is a lottery, it is the only real move this once-storied franchise has. As a Bulls fan, I hope this plan does not work. Of course, we still hope the Knicks tank, we land Oden, and have one final laugh (and toast) to Isiah. Boy, Michael sure did ruin your head after the Dream Team debacle, didn't he?

Friday, January 5, 2007

Notre Dame

My entire life I have been a die hard Notre Dame fan. I know the Domers are much like the Yankees of college sports. Most people hate them or love them. I happen to be an Irish-Catholic who was born in Indiana so I never really had a choice. I remember my brother actually playing Knute Rockne in a grade school play and being extremely jealous. Well, except for all the songs he had to learn and sing, that is.

Notre Dame football sure has changed from what I grew up watching. I remember the exciting option teams with Rice and Rocket. There was always a dominant back from either Pinkett, Bettis, Watters, to Denson, etc. (who happens to be the career rushing yard record holder). This was always paired with a smash-you-in the mouth defense. This has been the most dramatic change. The Notre Dame defense of today is less than frightening to be kind. Certainly the college game has changed. Kids are bigger and faster. They want to go to attractive, fun, schools such as Miami, USC, Florida. Who really wants to head to South Bend to get an education? Notre Dame still has very high standards and while they make special circumstances (Julius Jones) they do limit themselves from some top athletes that have no chance of getting in.

The academic standards cannot be an excuse. Jim Tressel's Buckeyes had a team GPA of 2.93 in the fall with 61 players over 3.0. You can become dominant with smarter players not quite as athletically talented. In fact, that has always been the great Bob Knight's motto. He wants smarter players, not the most talented. It is pretty hard to argue with the winningest coach in college basketball history. This should be a benefit, not a roadblock.

It truly disheartens me to witness what this storied program has become. The players do not seem to have that look in their eyes and understand what it means when the smack the " Play Like A Champion Today" sign. Sure, they play hard but it is not the same level of putting intensity and true fear into their competitors eyes. Weis has done a great job of restoring the program to respectability. However, the next few years will be a true test and challenge of making them a dominant national champion threat.

My biggest disappointment was, of course, the Sugar Bowl game. This was not a game the Irish deserved to be in in the first place. Everyone knows they always get a better bowl game than they are qualified for because of their popularity and TV ratings that brings. That being said, they looked like the better team in the first half. They were running the ball and playing solid defense. They would have held the lead at half if it were not for the fake punt on their own 35.

This game was lost solely on coaching. The second half completely went away from the outside running attack that was killing LSU. Walker had 125 yards on 18 carries in the first half! That sure sounds like a formula for success to me. Why would you abandon this attack? (He finished the game with 128 yards on 22 carries). He had 4 carries in the second half and all were up the gut. Instead, they went to cross pass plays that were to receivers that were running poor executed routes and creating little to no separation. A few 3 and outs paired with the LSU offense marching down the field on long drives and the game was over. The defense was exhausted and the offense lost all rhythm and confidence. This game was 100% the fault of the coaches. No questions asked.

It is a shame Brady Quinn had to go out like that. Popular consensus is now that Russell is the better quarterback and will go No.1 to the Raiders. That will be a huge mistake. Quinn will be the better NFL QB. I don't care about his physical stature or one game where he was bombing the ball to wide open receivers like a game of Madden. While impressive, I do not even care that he can throw the ball 40 yards from his butt. I remember similar statistics from Kyle Boller when he came out. Or how about Ryan Leaf being drafted ahead of some guy named Manning because he had such an amazing Bowl game? They have career ratings of 71 and 50, respectively (or not so much). I know Weis helped develop one of the greatest quarterbacks of our time in Tom Brady. He feels Quinn has the same skill and drive to become great. I believe him and some team will be lucky when he falls.

I have high expectations for Weis and the Irish in the next few years. They will have some ups and downs, but they are at least a program that is pleasurable to watch again. They have had some of the top recruiting classes since Charlie came on so there should not be huge drop-offs. I hear they are recruiting loads of speed, which will be fun to watch. Little Claussen can, hopefully, continue the history of talented quarterbacks. I hope to be cheering for a national championship within the next 3 years. Please make it happen Notre Dame.

Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame
Wake up the echoes cheering her name,
Send the volley cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky,
What though the odds be great or small
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons are marching
Onward to Victory.