Posts Tagged ‘Johnson’

Predictions: 2010 Oakland Raiders

July 17th, 2010

The Oakland Raiders haven’t won more than five games in a season since winning the division back in 2002, and are coming off their second straight 5-11 season. The biggest move the Raiders made this offseason was cutting ties with former No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell, who will go down as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

Here is a look at what the Raiders will bring to the table for the 2010 season, plus my prediction on where they the will finish the season in the AFC West.



The second biggest move the Raiders made this offseason was trading for Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, who will easily be the best quarterback the Raiders have fielded since Rich Gannon was under center. Backup Bruce Gradkowski really played well starting for Russell at the end of last year, but figures to move back to the No. 2 spot this season.

The Raiders lost running back Justin Fargas this offseason, but are hoping that Darren McFadden and Michael Bush will benefit from more carries. I don’t know that will be as big a factor as having a quarterback that can throw the ball, as opposing defenses were able to just stuff the line and beg the Raiders to throw it the past couple seasons.

It doesn’t appear the Raiders made the right choice when selecting Darrius Heward-Bey over Michael Crabtree last year, but there is still a chance that Heyward-Bey can turn into a solid receiver if he continues to improve and starts catching the ball.

Chaz Schilens figures to be the No. 1 target on the outside if he can stay healthy, with Louis Murphy and Johnnie Lee Higgins also in the mix at the receiver position. The Raiders do have one of the best young tight ends in Zach Miller, who figures to put up even better numbers with Campbell throwing him the ball.

The offensive line is a bit of concern heading into the 2010 season. Left guard Robert Gallery must stay healthy for this unit to improve in 2010, as he played in just six games in 2009. With a healthy Gallery, I think we will see better production out of left tackle Mario Henderson, who faded down the stretch. Center Samson Satele and guard Cooper Carlisle are back, while Langston Walker, Khalif Barnes, and Bruce Campbell are expected to battle for the starting right tackle spot. 



The Raiders made a really nice addition to their defensive line with the pickup of defensive tackle John Henderson, who should make life a lot easier for fellow tackle Tommy Kelly. Richard Seymour is back to start at defensive end, while Matt Shaughnessy and Quentin Groves are expected to battle for the other starting spot at end.

The Raiders have had some bad luck with recent draft selections, but I think they were right on with their first round pick of middle linebacker Rolando McClain, who I think will be a star for years to come on this side of the ball. Trevor Scott and Kamerion Wimbley are back on the outside and will enjoy playing next to McClain this season.

The Raiders have one of the best corners in all of football in Nnamdi Asomugha, as teams refuse to throw the ball his way. That puts a lot of pressure on the other starting corner Chris Johnson, but Johnson is capable of getting the job done. Tyvon Branch is the likely starter at strong safety with Michael Huff battling Hiram Eugene for the starting free safety spot. Also keep an eye out for 2009 second round pick Mike Mitchell to get more playing time this season.



Third in the AFC West.

I have the Chiefs just slightly ahead of the Raiders this season in the AFC West, but I believe both teams are going to be much improved and be right around the 8-8 mark. If Campbell exceeds expectations, the Raiders could compete for the division title.

See where I have the rest of the teams finishing the season in my 2010 NFL predictions . If you plan on betting the NFL this season, be sure to stop back for our live NFL odds each and every week.

2010 Marshall Football Predictions

July 17th, 2010

After going 7-6 in 2009 and capping off the season with a big win over Ohio 21-17 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, the Marshall Thundering Herd will look to maintain its momentum as they head into a new season. They will be led by one of the college footballs top-recruiting specialists, head coach John "Doc" Holliday.

The 52-year-old Holiday will bring with him a plethora of experience having served stints with SEC Giants Florida, N.C. State and West Virginia. He will begin his time at Marshall sorting through the 14 returning starters and an 83-player roster, a daunting task for even the most experienced coaches.

Here’s a look at the 2010 Thundering Herd to help make your College Football wagers winners. For a detailed look at the 2010 Conference USA Football Predictions check this out.

Be sure to check out more free expert college football picks to help make your betting experience a winner.


The Herd’s offense will be under the direction of new offensive coordinators Bill Legg and Tony Peterson. They have seven returning starters on offense, including quarterback Brian Anderson. The 6-3 senior started all 13 contests leading the team to his first bowl win in his first full season, throwing for 2,646 yards and 14 touchdowns along the way. Anderson has a lock on the number one spot this season. He will have to remain sharp since redshirt freshman A.J. Graham stands ready in the wings.

In the backfield junior Terrell Edwards and sophomore Andre Booker will be called upon to fill the hole in the left by NFL bound Darius Marshall, who lead the team last year in rushing. Edwards, whose best performance came in a win over SMU last season, rushed for 217 yards and three touchdowns including 113 yards and a touchdown in that single win. Booker also emerged as a threat last season but saw limited action, rushing for just 73 yards on 15 attempts in seven games.

If all else fails the Herd can turn to sophomore Martin Ward. He came on strong in the last two games of the season and finished with 393 total yards and three touchdowns on just 82 carries, including 136 yards in a game against Southern Methodist on Nov. 21. He rushed 75 yards and two touchdowns in the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, enough to be named the games MVP.


First-team All C-USA selection linebacker Mario Harvey will be one of seven returning defensive starters. Battling it out in the trenches will be junior tackles Delvin Johnson, and Brandon Bullock along with defensive end Johnny Jones. They are an impressive group with intimidating size standing 6-4 and 320 pounds on average.

Another returning starter junior is DB DeQuan Bembry, who had 53 tackles and three picks. He will lead an experienced secondary that includes junior CB Ahmed Shakoor, who led the team with 11 swatted passes. T.J. Drakeford, also, will look for more playing time after appearing in just five games in 2009 due to ongoing injuries.

Rounding out the sixth and seventh returning starters will be junior safety Omar Brown, and senior DB Kevin Perry. Brown, who stepped up after senior John Saunders succumbed to a season-ending injury, finished third on the team with 73 tackles, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups in four games.

Perry, on the other hand, saw action in all 13 games as a reserve behind now departed senior Ashton Hall, dragging down one interception against Tulane on Oct 10.

2010 Outlook and Prediction: Third in Conference USA East Division. It shouldn’t be too hard to better last year’s results as the team returns more than 40 seniors and is strong defensively up front, which should keep the Herd in every game.

They have experience and depth at both quarterback and the running back positions, but could struggle with an inexperienced offensive line that has been hit hard with injuries. However, they should end up 5-3 in conference play. The new coaching staff has brought the spread attack that is widespread throughout the SEC.

Need some help making your selections? Then check out our college football picks offered by some of the industry’s top handicappers.

Penny Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, and Why Lil’ Penny Is Better For Miami

July 17th, 2010

Reports surfaced today that former Miami Heat point guard Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway was interested in coming out of retirement to rejoin the team for the 2011 season.

Hardaway was enticed by the thought of playing with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh.  Despite being 39 years of age, he still feels he can contribute to the Heat's championship goal.

Miami is also said to be considering former Heat star Shaquille O'Neal, who is 38. 

If both players do sign, Miami will have a geriatric edge to go with the rest of their considerable talent.

Hardaway was once considered one of the best point guard prospects to enter the NBA since Magic Johnson, but a succession of knee injuries robbed him of the quickness and explosiveness that helped make him special.  His best professional season was probably 1994-1995 when Hardaway, on an Orlando Magic team featuring O'Neal, was swept by the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

Hardaway went on to have many more solid NBA seasons, but he was never the same player after his injuries.  Although his 15.2 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, and 5 assist career numbers are decent, they don't match the expectations of his talent.

O'Neal led the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive championships, and was an instrumental piece in the Heat's title run in 2006.  However, time has taken a toll on O'Neal's game.

O'Neal, considered one of the greatest NBA centers to ever play the game, may have been recognized as the game's best had he put more effort into conditioning and training.

O'Neal still has the enormous strength that he has used to overpower opponents in the past, but the quickness he once possessed in the post has faded.

Younger, quicker players have passed him by.

Both players have seen the best of their playing days, and while O'Neal could at least provide some front court help to a team desperately in need of bodies, it's not a sure thing Hardaway is in NBA shape.

Hardaway's physical skills had eroded to the point where he was nothing more than a role player by the time he retired in 2007.  What makes anyone think he could return and be effective in 2011?

The Heat would be better off signing a D-league player than Hardaway.

In the case of O'Neal, the recent signing of Zydrunas Ilglauskas means Miami should have met their quota of slow, aging centers.

But, O'Neal has expressed a desire to play for a few more years, and there is a possibility the Heat will take a chance on Hardaway, despite his age and time away from the game. The move could have some benefits for Miami.

Pat Riley would have two more roster spots filled and Nike just might bring back Hardaway's Lil' Penny character.  Lil' Penny was hilarious, and his party puppet nature blends perfectly with the excitement coarsing through the streets of Miami due to their free agency coup.

Lil' Penny was all the rage in 1995, in much the same manner that Miami's super team is the rage right now.  I can already envision a puppet line featuring Wade and Chris Bosh as well.

Hardaway and O'Neal may have been great players in their primes, but that time has passed.

Unless Miami has a secret plan to bring Lil Penny back to life, they should probably let Hardaway stay in retirement.


Michael Beasley’s Impact on the Minnesota Timberwolves

July 17th, 2010

The Minnesota Timberwolves brought Michael Beasley into the fold by trading away two second round picks to the Miami Heat.

The potential this move represents could be worth much more than those two low picks.

In Beasley’s time at Kansas State University, he was nothing short of dominating. He had more double-doubles than any other player in the NCAA with 28. 

He had several games where he scored more than 40 points. The list of reasons why he was touted as perhaps the top prospect in the country goes on.

When he was selected second overall in the 2008 draft by the Heat, it was expected that his addition, combined with Dwyane Wade’s presence, would turn the franchise around. 

That’s a lot of expectations to be put on the shoulders of anybody not named Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James.

Without going into detail about Beasley’s reported off-the-court troubles, it is enough to say that Beasley needed out of South Beach.

Enter Minnesota, a team that won’t be putting the weight of the world on Beasley’s shoulders, while giving him every opportunity to continue to progress.

Let’s also not make the mistake of assuming that just because Miami jettisoned him, that Beasley is a bust. His 14 points-per-game in the NBA before his 21st birthday isn’t something to sneeze at.

Beasley comes to a Minnesota team that is in the midst of a massive shift in philosophy. 

During the Kevin Garnett years and two of the Al Jefferson years, the team relied heavily on scoring from the low post, fitting in pieces around a strong power forward. 

Under general manager David Kahn and head coach Kurt Rambis, the team is making a transition toward the complicated triangle offense, one that relies on some low-post scoring, a lot of speed, and an ability to shoot from the wing.

Beasley will fit in well with the triangle simply because he is a player who can change the look of a lineup very quickly. 

He can either play as a big small forward (he has a good enough jump shot to make mid-range shots as well as get to the bucket) or as a slightly undersized power forward.

In the triangle system, speed is just as important as an ability to drain your shots.  Beasley doesn’t have the low-post presence that Jefferson had, but he certainly has more range on his jumper and is faster up and down the floor. 

Combining Beasley’s greater agility with Wes Johnson’s wingspan and Corey Brewer’s defensive specialties, and you have a much tougher defense. 

Teams that got open looks last season will find it much more difficult to run and gun against the Wolves.

He may even wind up as a sixth man, becoming the first guy off the bench and giving Rambis the ability to adapt his lineup to the opponent. 

Beasley gives the Wolves options, and for a team in the midst of a rebuilding process, there really isn’t anything more valuable than that.

Also significant is the fact that, in all likelihood, Beasley has not reached his ceiling yet in the NBA. 

Given a fresh start and having enormous pressure lifted off of his shoulders, he may have the perfect opportunity to blossom into a 20-and-10 threat in the league. 

It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, especially considering that Beasley will be able to play now without the pressure and spotlight that comes with playing for a Pat Riley squad.

Simply put, Beasley can get back to just playing basketball if he so chooses. His destiny is firmly in his own hands now, and all that he has to do to impress is work hard and dig deeper into the talent that made him a second overall pick.

Being able to start Jonny Flynn (eventually Ricky Rubio), Johnson, Beasley, Kevin Love, and Darko Milicic demonstrates that the Wolves are putting together a solid base of young talent. 

Beasley will have the chance to make himself a big part of this Minnesota team moving forward, and in the end, that’s just about the best situation for Beasley to find himself in.

From the Timberwolves’ perspective this deal was too good to pass up. 

Being able to add a player who has averaged 14 points per game in his young career for a very low price is a bargain in the NBA, pure and simple. Some may view Beasley’s acquisition as a risk, but for the price, it’s a risk well worth taking. 

Beasley even addressed that at his introductory press conference at Target Center on Thursday. 

He was asked if he thought that the Wolves had taken a gamble on him and responded with, “Definitely, but I believe in myself and I trust in myself to take care of business like I’m supposed to.” 

This should be music to the ears of Wolves fans. A player who will come in, know his role, and get the job done is the perfect fit for this team, regardless of whatever happened in his past.

If you’re Kahn, your main goal right now is to restock this team with talent while not giving up other talent, parting with draft assets, or becoming handcuffed to a ridiculous salary. 

The deal to bring in Beasley fits each of those conditions.

Pat Riley or Phil Jackson? Which Los Angeles Lakers Era Do You Prefer?

July 17th, 2010

Phil Jackson's final season as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers will be filled with intrigue, as he chases an unprecedented 12th NBA title, and an unheard of fourth three-peat as a head coach.

Jackson's task is difficult to begin with, but former Lakers coach Pat Riley has upped the ante by assembling a historic trio of superstars in Miami who represent a direct challenge to Jackson's quest.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh are arguably one of the greatest trios of stars the league has seen in 20 years, and the Miami Heat have already been elevated to the status of title favorites in the eyes of many.

If Riley should happen to seize the reins from Heat coach Erik Spolestra, and the Lakers and Heat meet in the NBA Finals, we could be witness to one of the most ironic coaching showdowns in NBA history.

Jackson and Riley are the authors of the two greatest eras in Lakers' history, and their contrast in coaching styles has helped define the legacy of one of the NBA's most storied franchises.

Riley's 171 career playoff wins are second only to Jackson's 179, and Jackson has won five championships as head coach of the Lakers while Riley won four titles in the '80s, and one more as an assistant under Paul Westphal.

Jackson has won nearly 70 percent of his playoff games, which is the best in NBA history, and Riley's percentage of 61 in the same category ranks 10th on the same list.

Both coaches have reaped the benefits of having some of the greatest players in Lakers' and NBA history during their tenures, but it was their approach and coaching styles that made the teams successful.

Riley's Showtime teams of the '80s had the NBA's best point guard in Magic Johnson, the NBA's top center in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and one of the best small forwards in James Worthy.

Those three superstars were surrounded by talented players such as Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, and A.C. Green, and Riley thrived by letting the talent of his players dictate his coaching schemes.

Riley's primary focus was defense, but on the offensive end he centered his strategy around the distinct abilities of his players. Magic Johnson's greatest asset was his ability in the open court, so Riley designed a scheme which took advantage of that.

Riley's Showtime style was built around solid defense, and pushing the ball up the court as quickly as possible, while utilizing the secondary break if no shot was initially available.

The Showtime era Lakers were one of the most entertaining teams of all time, and although Jackson's teams may have not been as exciting, they more than compensated with execution and precision.

Like Riley, Jackson also believes in a dominant defense, but his offense is based in what has become the most revolutionary scheme the NBA has ever seen.

The triangle offense is actually more of an idea than a true strategy, and it takes a versatile and intelligent player to make it work, and Jackson has had two of the NBA's very best.

Jackson captured six NBA championships in Chicago with Michael Jordan as the point man in his triangle, and he has won another five in Los Angeles with Kobe Bryant assuming the same role.

It's true that Shaquille O'Neal was the focal point of Jackson's championship teams of 2000-02, but Bryant's responsibility in the scheme was the same then as it is now.

Bryant's ability to get his shot from any spot on the floor is the most crucial aspect of the triangle, because his constant movement around the court keeps opposing defenses at a disadvantage.

Jackson's commitment and belief in the triangle offense has defined his coaching legacy, just as Riley's ability to adapt to the different skills of his players has defined his.

Jackson and Riley are not only the two greatest coaches in Lakers history but could also be considered two of the greatest coaches to ever grace an NBA sideline.

Whether you choose to favor Jackson or Riley may be a matter of generation gaps, but no one can deny the footprint each coach has left on the Lakers franchise, or what they have meant to the franchise's legacy.

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