Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky’

Drew Brees Book: Chicken Soup For The BP Fatigued Soul

July 18th, 2010

COMING BACK STRONGER, by Drew Brees with Chris Fabry. (TyndaleHouse, $26.99.) The N.F.L. quarterback recovered from an injury to play for the New Orleans Saints. 





At least a thousand adoring fans begin cheering as Drew Brees rises up the elevator at Borders on St. Charles Avenue to autograph copies of his new book "Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity" which debuted at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller list this week.

This is Brees' third book signing of the day but he says with a smile not to worry, his right arm, the one he uses to unleash those lethal touchdown passes, is holding up just fine

This place used to be a funeral home but the only people who looked distressed are the frazzled staff as this event has temporarily disrupted the norm of the place: a quiet atmosphere to peruse a book or two while sipping a cup of Seattle's Best.

The crowds at the book signings come as no surprise as Brees and Saints fans have always mixed like a cool glass of Tanqueray and Tonic served up at Pat O'Briens on Bourbon Street on those steamy New Orleans Summer nights.

In a city still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and a nasty oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, just call "Coming Back Stronger", Chicken Soup for the BP fatigued soul.

It is loaded with an inspiration at a time when people have never needed it more.

From the moment the doctor snipped the umbilical cord, Drew Brees has had to battle adversity and search for the hidden power contained within it.

His first challege in life was overcoming the pain of his parent's divorce as a young boy growing up in Austin, Texas.

"Reid (Drew's brother) and I spent many nights awake long after-lights out, hoping and praying that our parents would get back together. We cried ourselves to sleep a lot during that time."

Brees had the lineage of a future star.

His mother Mina was a Texas all-state athlete in three sports and his uncle, Marty Akins, was an All-American quarterback at the University of Texas. Akins led Texas to a 1973 Cotton Bowl victory over an Alabama team coached by Bear Bryant.

Brees felt lost in the shuffle in his early days at Westlake High School in Austin and his passion was for baseball not football. He told his mother, "Mom, I think I might want to quit football...because I don't feel I'm ever going to get an opportunity to play."

Mina Brees "didn't freak out" says Brees but told her son, " don't have to play. But remember this: when you least expect it, that opportunity will present itself. You never know when it's going to come, but all it takes is one play."

When Johnny Rodgers, a QB with a higher-profile and better family connections than Drew, went down with a torn ACL, Mina's advice to her son turned prophetic and Brees got his shot.

However, Brees would have to stare down adversity again. He led the JV team to a 10-0 record and then, the following season, tore is own ACL after leading the Westlake varsity team deep into the playoffs.

"The ACL injury was a defining moment in my life," says Brees in Coming Back Stronger . "I made a decision not to let something negative control my emotion....the injury stirred me up inside, and I was filled with questions: Do I have a purpose? Is there a reason I'm on this earth? Do I have a destiny, or is everything just chance?"

Brees made the choice to come back stronger in what would be a recurring theme in years to come. He led Westlake to a 16-0 season and the first state championship in the history of the school.

Austin, Texas was a happy town but college football's major powers didn't seem to take notice. His hometown Texas Longhorns had other plans and Drew was only recruited by "a few Ivy League schools, along with Purdue and Kentucky."

This kid from Austin always seemed to be the perennial underdog, always having to overcome the odds.

Drew Brees chose Purdue of the Big Ten.

"By the way, where's Purdue?" It's in Indiana, Drew.

By his sophomore year, he was the starter but after an ill-advised interception against Notre Dame resulted in a loss, Brees began to question his own ability.

"Do I belong here? Can I compete at this level?

Once again he discovered his inner resolve to persevere through adversity.

In his senior year, Brees would lead Purdue to the 2000 Rose Bowl with a 64 yard TD pass in the final seconds to beat Ohio State. Purdue didn't go to Rose Bowls. Just never happened. No way. No how. That is until Mr. Brees came along.

Well now they call me the breeze
I keep blowin' down the road 
I ain't got me nobody
I don't carry me no load
Oooh Mr Breeze
Fast forward to December 31, 2020- the day that would change the course of Drew Brees' life forever.

The Super Bowl seemed a million miles away when you lay in that hospital bed in 2006 with a shoulder so severely torn, even your doctor thought your playing days may be done.

The San Diego Chargers unceremoniously dumped you with an insulting contract offer and you and Brittany put plans to start a family on hold.

All of this because because you were just doing your job. 

You dove for a fumble in your own end zone in 2005. You were just being you. Playing football the way Rose played baseball and Maravich played basketball. Diving to recover a fumble with your team out of playoff contention.

No good deed goes unpunished.

A 325 pound Denver defensive tackle named Gerald Warren landed full force on your throwing shoulder. It was a pretty gruesome sight.

In Birmingham, Ala, renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews watched a replay of that scramble for the ball and told Sports Illustrated , "I thought, my God, what an injury."

After examining you, he said it was a 360 degree tear of the labrum and, during surgery, Andrews found that you also suffered a deep, partial rotator cuff tear.

He told SI that it was "one of the most unique injuries of any athlete I've treated."

"Lord, I was just hoping to give him a functional shoulder. An average athlete would not recover from this injury," said Andrews.

Never underestimate the heart of a champion.

Meanwhile, the city of New Orleans was in shambles and struggling to regain its balance following Hurricane Katrina. Somehow, someway you two found each other and the marriage quickly got off to a rousing start.

In Coming Back Stronger , Drew Brees talks of a decision that came down to Miami or New Orleans and a meeting with the phlegmatic, aloof, former LSU coach Nick Saban, who was running the show in South Beach at the time.

"Nick was up-front with me. He told me straight out that he was interested in having me play for the Dolphins. His personality is not real warm, and you struggle to get a smile out of him. He's a hard-nosed stoic kind of guy, and he did most of the talking at the breakfast, as I recall."

By contrast, Brees took to Sean Payton right away.

"Our first conversation occurred while I was going through the Arby's drive-through in Birmingham, and I realized right away I like his (Sean Payton's) personality. I appreciated what he had to say about the team and the direction they were going. I could feel they truly wanted me and would appreciate a chance"

Brees pressed Saban for a commitment.

"Coach (Saban), I know how what your doctors believe about me. My question is, what do you believe? Do you believe that I can come back and be better than I was before and lead your team to a championship?"

Saban paused.

"That was really all I needed to hear. His pause told me everything." said Brees. "Immediately I called my agent. "Tom (Condon), do the deal with New Orleans."

It's January 2007 and you're walking through Audubon Park; San Diego seems so far in the past now.

You pass walkers and joggers along the trail.

Just last Saturday night, you led the Saints to 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the team's second playoff win in team history, setting up a meeting with the Chicago Bears for the NFC Championship.

"Thank you for what you've done for this city. I want you to know that we appreciate it," says a man pushing a baby stroller.

A woman passing in a red SUV yells out the window, "Thanks Drew!"

You tell SI's Tim Layden, "That happens 10 times a day. And it's never 'Good game' or Can I have your autograph? It's always somebody saying thank you."

You look downward and shake your head in humility.

Those Bourbon Street preachers say gratitude is the least heartfelt of all emotions. Guess they've never witnessed an outpouring of emotion like this.

Chef Emeril Lagasse tells Sports Illustrated, "He is a god down here right now. He is a miracle man."

In your first year as quarterback of the Saints, you are navigating the team toward the impossible dream: New Orleans' first Super Bowl.

Your right tackle Jon Stinchcomb tells SI, "Without him we just wouldn't be here. It's that simple."

Three year later, Stinchcomb would be one of your protectors in a Super Bowl victory.

Life was tough back in those days. Standing in long lines at the grocery. Standing in even longer lines at the pharmacy. Having to be in the drive-up line by 8:00 p.m. for a box of Popeye's fried chicken.

Football was one of the only distractions.

Now, it's Valentine's Day 2010 and your love affair with the city and its people is stronger than ever. You've just won the Super Bowl and Disney World will have to wait for a while.

"All those rough patches on the journey- the injury, the rehab, the hurricane, the new team-and now we were really here, Super Bowl champions. I stood there with my little boy, and I was overwhelmed. I told (baby) Baylen how much I loved him and how much he meant to me and what an inspiration he was to me," said Brees.

"We did it little boy. We did it."

You throw footballs from a Mardi Gras float as the King of Bacchus on a frigid Sunday night in New Orleans.

You throw perfect spirals that people scramble for like they were pieces of gold.

You fling necklaces and medallions with ease. The same way you threw that TD pass to Shockey in Miami and you're as humble as ever.

They say steel is strengthened in the fire and Lord knows you've been there, Mr. Brees.

Coming Back Stronger- a little Tanqueray and Tonic-New Orleans Style- for the the adversity-plagued soul.




Flashback: Tennessee at Alabama October 2005

July 17th, 2010

Flashbacks are always more fun when your team wins in the end.

That was the case as I was watching CSS SEC classics. 365/24/7 Bob Neal and company review SEC games and run a long list of the classics over a weekend.

They replayed the 2005 instant classic matchup pitting the Volunteers of Tennessee with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Early Season Recap for UT

Tennessee started the season as defending champions of the SEC east division. They limped into the Tuscaloosa at 3-2, 2-2 following losses at Florida in week three (7-16) , and at home against Georgia in week six (14-27).

Their wins included victories in week one against UAB, week four against LSU and week five versus Ole Miss.

The victory against LSU was a physically and emotionally draining game for the UT team and fans. The game was played on the road in Baton Rouge. The Vols found themselves down 21-0 at the half to a strong and determined Bengal Tiger offense led by Jamarcus Russell.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis made halftime adjustments with the talented Volunteer defense. Adjustments that held the Tigers to a single field goal in the third quarter. The proud, orange-clad defenders followed up with a complete shut-down and shut-out of the LSU offense in the fourth and final frame.

Meanwhile, Rick Clausen took control of the Tennessee offense and led them to an early touchdown score in the third quarter and finished the game in the fourth quarter with 17 unanswered points.

The Vols led a balanced attack on offense. Gerald Riggs took the lion's share of carries for the runningbacks while Clausen utilized nearly every receiver on the roster.

The Volunteer passer finished 21-32, for 196 yards passing and connected with eight different receivers. Six of those receivers had at least three catches and more than 20 yards receiving in the game. C.J. Fayton led the corp with eight catches for 61 yards.

Despite the second half dominance by the Vols, the game came down to the wire due to the large first half deficit. Placekicker James Wilhoit sealed the win with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter nailing a 28 yard field goal.

The loss to Georgia at home was devastating.

Georgia came into the game at 4-0 while Tennessee was 3-1. A Win by UT would have put them back in the hunt to repeat as SEC east division champs, despite the loss to Florida in week three.

The Georgia team, led by D. J. Shockley came into Knoxville and took the Vols to the woodshed. The Dogs laid a whoopin' on UT that would be hard to forget.

The 27-14 loss was hard to swallow because of poor execution in the red zone, turnovers and penalties. The Vols fumbled three times in the game, losing two, and Clausen threw one interception.

Georgia led in time of possession 32:09 to 27:51.

The UGA offense tallied up 405 total yards in Neyland Stadium, balancing 198 yard rushing against 207 yards passing.

Though Clausen did his part in throwing for 310 yards in the game, the rushing game was horrible, finishing with a net of only 48 yards on 26 rushing attempts. It's the kind of loss that a team must bounce back from in order to salvage the season.

The Big Orange Machine was coming to Tuscaloosa to get back on track.

Phil Fulmer knew he could finish a season with two losses and still end up with a pretty good reward at the end. Three losses puts your team in a hard spot and leaves destiny in the hands of the lower tier bowl tycoons.

You won't be playing on or after New Year's Day.

Early Season Recap for UA

Alabama was riding high at 6-0. The Tide started the season with warm-ups against MTSU and Southern Miss. Tyrone Prothro etched his silhouette into college football lore by making a catch with outstretched arms over the head of a defender, leading his team on a comeback victory over the Golden Eagles.

Then the Crimson clad warriors took their show on the road to Columbia, S.C. and got the offense on track early.

Keith Brown and D.J Hall proved that Ty Prothro was just one of the cogs in a great receiving corp and Brodie Croyle gave them plenty of opportunity to shine.

With the game tied 7-7, Croyle connected with K. Brown on a 46 yard wide receiver screen that opened the floodgates for the Alabama offense. The Tide went on to score 30 unanswered points in the rout.

Ken Darby had 145 yard on 20 carries, showing the rest of the SEC that this was a balanced offense with multiple weapons. His resume from the game includes a 22-yard touchdown run.

Fullbacks Tim Castille and LeRon McClain were dependable on third down and kept the ball in the hands of the Alabama offense. Alabama had better than 37 minutes in time of possession.

Jamie Christensen added nine points on three field goals for the game. Points came from every phase of the game. Prothro and Hall were always a threat on kickoffs and punt returns, landing the offense in good field position.

In Week 4, Alabama rolled over Arkansas in the first three quarters but only led by a score of 10-3. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Tim Castille capped a drive with a 1-yard run giving the Tide a comfortable 17-3 lead.

But the Huston Nutt led Razorbacks were not finished and hadn't show Alabama their secret weapon.

On the next offensive series, freshman Darren McFadden became a household name throughout the Southeast and across the nation, by taking the hand off from quarterback Robert Johnson and streaking 70 yards up the sideline.

Alabama senior safety, Roman Harper, was a mere speed bump to the stiff arm of McFadden. The play by the freakish man-child sent shockwaves across the southland and struck fear into future Razorback opponents.

The Hogs pulled even closer, following a blocked punt and subsequent field goal by Chris Balseiro. With the score at 17-14, the Alabama offense took control and marched downfield for an eight play drive that ended in a five yard touchdown pass to an uncovered D.J. Hall.

With only 2:22 left on the play clock, the 11 point lead was insurmountable for the tired, dejected Arkansans.

Week 5 was Shula's finest game as the Alabama head coach. The No. 5 ranked, undefeated Florida Gators swaggered into Bryant Denny averaging 34.5 points per game.

The Gators were in control of the east, having defeated the Tennessee Vols 17-6 in week three and blowing out the Kentucky Wildcats 49-28 in week four.

Urban Meyer was on a roll in his first season as head coach and planned on torching through the southeast like Sherman on his way through Atlanta. His spread system was installed and seemed unstoppable, now being run by graceful, stud Florida athletes.

DeMeco Ryans and the Alabama defense had something else in mind for the first year coach and his high octane offense.

Meyer, an outsider to the southeast, had never played at Bryant Denny and knew very little regarding Dixie's Pride, Alabama Football.

Chris Leak was just 5-of-16 in the first half and threw two interceptions. After stopping the first offensive possession by Florida, Alabama took over from their own 17 yard line. Croyle connected with Tyrone Prothro on the first play from scrimmage for an 87 yard touchdown pass that took all of eight seconds to complete.

The Tide rolled to a 17-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. The offense racked up 407 total yards in the rout over the Gators. Croyle passed for 283 yards in the game. Ken Darby rushed for 101 yard, again adding balance to the offense.

Alabama won the game 31-3.

The Florida loss was the worst defeat since 2002 and put an end to a 20-game winning streak for head coach Urban Meyer (Utah and Florida).

Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in the following week with the cover touting, "Bama is Back." It was a remarkable victory and a signature win for the third year head coach, Mike Shula.

Unfortunately for the Tide, their rising star, Tyrone Prothro, suffered a career ending fracture in his left leg. Prothro was a leader on the offense and special teams. His loss was felt immediately and the entire state mourned for the fallen warrior.

The Game

The Alabama victory over UF was a perfect scenario for Fulmer and the Volunteers. Having lost in a close contest to Florida just three weeks earlier, a victory on the road in Tuscaloosa is what the No. 17 ranked Tennessee team needed to gain favor in the polls and make the climb back into the Top 10.

After coming off the bye week, Alabama went on to defeat a struggling Ole Miss by means of a 31-yard field goal as time expired. The Alabama offense was sputtering with the loss of Prothro but the national polls had the Tide ranked at No. 5.

Fulmer had a knack for winning against the Tide.

As head coach, Fulmer possesses the longest win streak against Alabama over all previous Volunteer coaches. From 1995-2001, Tennessee owned the Crimson Tide. Seven straight wins over the Tide with an average margin of victory at just over 14 points.

In 2003, the Vols came into Tuscaloosa and defeated the Crimson Tide 51-43 in a five-overtime win.

In '04, Fulmer and the Volunteers pulled out a home victory in which the Alabama team led in every major statistical category. In the 17-13 victory, the Vols had the ball for only 26:04 while the Tide time of possession was a whopping 33 minutes and 56 seconds.

Flumer was golden against the Tide.

In 17 years, he had 10 legitimate victories and was awarded an eleventh by default. Alabama would forfeit the 1993 game that ended in a 17-17 tie, due to NCAA sanctions. Some Alabama fans still believe that Fulmer had everything in the world to do with the troubling times the Tide had to endure. That is a discussion for another day but one that I will not partake.

October 23, 2020 was the fourth Saturday in October of that year. Nevertheless, it was a day to remember.

After three quarters of play, Alabama led 3-0. The Volunteer defense was making a stand against the sputtering offense of the Crimson Tide, holding them to under 180 of total offense for three and two-thirds quarters.

The Volunteers tied the game with 11:32 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 32 yard field goal by James Wilhoit.

Through the middle of the fourth quarter, there had been only one turnover in the game, an interception by the Tennessee defense. Croyle had been sacked four times and Ken Darby had under 60 rushing for the game.

With just over nine minutes left in the game, Tennessee took possession on their own 47-yard line. The UT offense proceeded to drive the ball down the throat of the highly ranked Alabama defense.

Rick Clausen began the drive with a slant pass complete to Chris Hannon for 15 yards and a first down on the Alabama 38-yard line.

Three consecutive rushing plays to Arian Foster over left tackle, right end and right guard, moved the ball to the Alabama 27-yard line with just over six minutes to play.

Rudy Griffin, Roman Harper and Juwan Simpson stood in the gaps for the Tide but the Volunteer offense continued to push forward.

On the fifth play from scrimmage, Gerald Riggs took the handoff from Clausen and rushed over the left end for 24 yards before he was brought down on a game saving tackle by Simeon Castille.

The large gain left the Volunteers on the Alabama three yard line.

Riggs was injured on the play and freshman Cory Anderson took over at the halfback position, alongside Arian Foster.

It was a sight that was just too familiar to Alabama fans.

After having led for three quarters and fighting valiantly throughout the fourth, Alabama had it's back to the wall with little time to spare. The Big Orange Machine was about to put the game out of reach with a score.

On the next series, UT committed two egregious mistakes that would result in negative yards. First, a false start moved the ball from the three yard line to the Alabama nine. On the third play of the series, seventh of the drive, Clausen attempted a sideline pass as he was being pursued by the Alabama defense.

When he released the ball, Clausen was over the line of scrimmage resulting in a five yard penalty and loss of down. That made it third down and 15 from the Alabama 15-yard line.

Tennessee had one more play up their sleeve and they intended to score a touchdown.

On third and goal, Clausen completed a screen to running back Cory Anderson. Anderson, substituting for the injured Riggs, had blocking up front as Alabama looked unprepared for the play to the freshman. Red jerseys were falling all around the Tennessee back who rambled toward the goal.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Roman Harper hit Anderson with perfect form, jarring the ball loose at the four yard line. The ball squirted out of the young running backs arms and through the right side of end zone as Simeon Castille was in hot pursuit.

The Volunteers had moved the ball 53 yards on eight plays in four minutes and fifteen seconds. They had gained one-fifth of the 253 total yards for the entire game in that eight play series and were standing on the brink of victory. The jarring hit by Roman Harper breathed new life into the Alabama team.

The sold out crowd inside the confines of Bryant Denny took the decibel meter to an entirely new level.

The misfortune for the Vols gave the ball to Alabama on the 20-yard line with 5:08 left on the game clock. For the next two plays, it seemed that Alabama would be satisfied to run the clock out and take the game to overtime.

Unfortunately, the busted running plays took very little time off the clock and Alabama was looking at third and eight from their own 22 yard line.

On third down, Shula call a play that was very uncharacteristic of the young head coach. It was a courageous play call that show maturation over the three years at the helm, and confidence in his playmakers.

Though he had been sacked six times in the game, and had hit the turf countless times, Croyle dropped back and delivered a pass on the money to a streaking D.J. Hall.

Despite the excellent coverage, stride for stride, by the UT corner, the ball landed right in Hall's bread basket. He was taken down immediately by the defender but the play resulted in a 43 yard gain and a first down on the UT 35-yard line.

New legs and new life in the Alabama backfield resulted in another first down after two plays.

Then, on the ensuing first down, Ken Darby scampered 11 yards and nearly broke free for a touchdown that would have sealed the win for Alabama, but Kevin Simon forced Darby out of bounds.

Three plays later, Brodie Croyle moved the ball to the center of the field setting up an attempt for Jamie Christensen. Christensen had just helped the Tide to victory with a last second field goal one week earlier against the Rebels of Ole Miss.

With 00:18 on the clock, Alabama lined up for the kick. Without hesitation, "Money" put the 34 yard field goal attempt through the uprights for the winning score.

It was a moment in time for the Alabama football program.

It was a victory on many levels. "Rammer Jammer" hadn't sounded so sweet in 15 years.

But what seemed like a clash of the Titans at the time, later turned out to be a battle of third place teams as the Tide would lose their last two regular season games to the LSU Tigers and Auburn Tigers in consecutive weeks.

Many Alabama fans knew in their heart of hearts that Alabama wasn't yet "Back" in the upper tier of college football programs in the nation, they were not even best in the state. But it was a moment of glory and one that was enjoyed to the fullest.

Against the Volunteers, Alabama had their moment in the sun. The victory was and is a part of the great tradition that is the rivalry between Alabama and Tennessee.

It is one of the many reason why Alabama will never look past UT is a season like the one upcoming.

The Volunteers from Tennessee are always a threat.

The series now stands at 47-38-7 in favor of Alabama. Tennessee will always have the respect of this rabid Alabama fan.

The third Saturday (or fourth) in October is a day to look forward to in any given year.

It is one of the best series in all of college football.




John Wall: Washington Wizards’ Guard Flashing Potential

July 17th, 2010

Get used to seeing the No. 2 jersey blaze down the hardwood, leaving defenders in its wake. You’ll be seeing it a lot over the next few years.

The first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, John Wall, is an electrifying talent and a point guard that the Washington Wizards will be glad to make the cornerstone of their offense for many years.

In college for the University of Kentucky, Wall was simply one of the most dynamic players in the country. He could shoot well, pass well, had great court vision and poise, and ran the fast break better than anyone else.

When Wall had the ball in his hands, the crowd held their collective breath as he would drive down the court as fast as lightning, pull off a spiffy spin move, and either lay the ball in the hole or dish it off to a wide-open Wildcat teammate.

So the question on many NBA fans’ minds going into the Summer League was whether or not Wall’s game speed would be able to translate with him to the higher level of competition. 

The resounding opinion is yes.

Thus far, Wall has without a doubt showed off the tantalizing potential that leaves Wizards fans drooling over the prospect of watching him for the next however many years. But his Summer League experience has not been without road bumps.

In Wall’s Summer League debut on July 11th against the Golden State Warriors, he experienced the rockiest start he could possibly imagine.

Instead of coolly dropping in his first shot attempt for two points, Wall missed badly from the free throw line, failing even to hit the rim before the backboard. Shortly thereafter, he displayed his trademark fast break spin move but had his shot rejected.

He would settle down to score 24 points and dish out eight assists. And while those numbers are high, they look worse when you see that he only shot seven-for-15 from the field and turned the ball over eight times. His free throw shooting impressed many though, as he made 10 of 11 from the line. 

This trend would continue.

Wall’s second professional-level game would see him matched up against fellow rookie Eric Bledsoe, a player he knew quite well from their communal time at Kentucky.

In this game, Wall finished with 18 points, 10 assists, and five steals. From the charity stripe, he shot a perfect eight-for-eight, but once again his points came on an inefficient five-for-12 shooting performance from the field and he turned the ball over eight times.

Nothing exemplified Wall’s play better than one series of possessions in the first quarter. The rookie point guard turned the ball over at the top of the key on one end, chased down the thief and stole it back, drove down the court, and found an open man who knocked down the three. Inefficient but effective.

Throughout the game, he was careless with the ball but still put together numerous plays where he made perfect passes to teammates and displayed nice fast break skills.

The third game, this time against the Dallas Mavericks, was no different.

Wall looked like a superstar at times and had a near triple-double with 21 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds. He also minimized his turnovers, only giving up the ball three times, and shot well from the free throw line with a 13-for-15 mark. But he was inefficient yet again, going four-for-19 against the tenacious defense of the rookie from South Florida, Dominique Jones.

There was more of the same in Wall’s fourth professional game.

Against the New Orleans Hornets, Wall had a personal-best 31 points on 10 of 23 shooting from the field and 10 of 13 shooting from the free throw line. He also drained his first three-pointer of the still-young Summer League season.

In addition, Wall had six rebounds, three steals, and three assists. He also kept with the trend of diminishing turnovers, only handing the ball over twice in nearly 36 minutes.

Though Wall has not even played in his first real NBA game, he is already showing the Wizards that they made a good pick when they selected him first overall. He may be playing with some inconsistency and inefficiency, but that does come with being a rookie.

Most impressively, Wall has a plus-39 plus/minus through his first four games, meaning that his team has scored 39 more points than it has allowed with him on the floor.

Wall will be fun to watch this season, so keep an eye on that Wizards jersey that will inevitably be streaking down the court. Or at least try to. 

SEC East: Does Georgia Have What It Takes To Beat Florida?

July 17th, 2010

The SEC East is gearing up for a football season without having to deal with Tim Tebow knocking them on their backs, but can any team in the SEC East take advantage of Florida in a perceived down year?

The SEC East is the weaker half of the SEC. Tennessee is recovering from their Lane Kiffin disaster and Kentucky and Vanderbilt are expected to be the cellar dwellers, which makes Georgia the early favorite to unseat Florida and Urban Meyer .

The following is the predicted order of finish for the six SEC East teams with a brief synopsis of their best players and their possible record in the SEC and overall.

Florida: SEC 6-2, Overall 9-4, SEC East Champs

Florida is in a down year, but in the SEC East Florida won't face much competition. Florida will lose an early out of conference game in a surprise (South Florida) and they will lose two SEC regular season games to Georgia and Alabama. In the SEC Title game Florida will lose to either Arkansas or Alabama, and it won't be close.

Quarterback John Brantley will be a solid quarterback, but it will take a year for Florida to get in sync. They still have enough talented players and they should hold their own on offense.

On the the defensive side of the ball there are plenty of issues to be addressed. The main area of concern is defensive line. Can Florida replace Carlos Dunlop and Jermaine Cunningham and keep their high pressure pass rush of years passed? Florida will be in tighter games against the less talented bottom half of the SEC.

Georgia Bulldogs: SEC 6-2, Overall 8-4, SEC East Runner-Up

Georgia was a preseason favorite to win the SEC East or at least contend in 2009 and they crashed and burned. This year will be tougher for Georgia to gain traction as they are most likely bringing in a red shirt freshman, Aaron Murray . Murray is not a guarantee at the QB position, but is the leader heading into the season.

On defense it is a complete overhaul, with a new defensive staff led by Todd Grantham coming from the Dallas Cowboys. Grantham has already begun implementation of a new scheme changing from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4.

Using one less down lineman should be an easy transition for the Georgia defense and should lead to more aggressive play in the middle of the field.

Tennessee Volunteers: SEC 4-4, Overall 7-5

New head coach Derek Dooley has his work cut out for him in his first SEC East season at Tennessee , and not just because he is replacing Lane Kiffin . Dooley has to rebuild Tennessee's damaged image in the aftermath of the Kiffin debacle.

Dooley's father once dominated the SEC while at Georgia and the Tennessee administration is hoping his pedigree is true. Look for Tennessee to beat Oregon in the second week, which will surprise many experts.

South Carolina Gamecocks: SEC 4-4, Overall 7-5

South Carolina and Steve Spurrier have languished in the SEC East for years and although the SEC East is the weaker side of the SEC, Spurrier has not been able to get over the top.

Spurrier's quarterback Protégé, Stephen Garcia , is not living up to the Ol' Ball Coaches expectations. South Carolina could surprise some big powers late in the season and sneak into second place in the SEC East.

Kentucky Wildcats: SEC 1-7, Overall 5-7

Kentucky has gone to four straight bowl games, but now with new coach Joker Phillips, Kentucky is looking to regroup in 2010. Kentucky's only possible win in 2010 is against the SEC East doormat, Vanderbilt, and that win is no guarantee.

Vanderbilt Commodores: SEC 0-8, Overall 1-11

Vanderbilt is in a hopeless free fall and they will fulfill their calling in life in the SEC East in 2010, providing a virtual bye week for the better teams in the SEC.

Final Breakdown of SEC East

It is obvious Florida , while in a down year, still has the most talent in a very weak SEC East. Georgia has a shot at Florida if their red shirt freshman, Aaron Murray, can acclimate to the quarterback position and their new defensive 3-4 scheme is effective. These are the only two teams that will contend for the right to play for the SEC Championship.

Alabama’s Greg McElroy Wins Through Effort

July 17th, 2010

Sometimes Greg McElroy looks out of place on the football field. Indeed, if you saw him on the street you wouldn’t guess he was a star QB for the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. 


He is a smart student who makes good grades and received the Paul W. Bryant Award for his academic, athletic, and community achievements.  He also hasn’t lost a football game since middle school.


In Southlake Carroll High School in Texas, McElroy had to wait behind former University of Missouri star and current NFL player Chase Daniel to start at QB.  When Daniel graduated and headed to Mizzou, McElroy was a senior with big shoes to fill.


Using his arm and brains, he led Southlake Carroll to one victory after another, eventually winning the state championship.  His coach said that he would throw the football into a net two hours a day to hone his accuracy.


I n 2005, Alabama coach Mike Shula was looking for a quarterback.  His top target was Tim Tebow, a five-star, do-it-all player from Florida.  When Tebow turned 'Bama down for the Florida Gators, a disappointed Shula resorted to offering a scholarship to McElroy, a three-star recruit who was then committed to Texas Tech. 


Greg eagerly accepted the offer to play at a powerhouse like Alabama.


Once again, however, Greg found himself waiting.  This time, it was behind John Parker Wilson, who guided the Tide to a 10-2 record in 2008, his final year.  After Bama’s disappointing bowl game loss to Utah, McElroy walked over to the Alabama coaches and announced he was taking control of the team.


Expectations were fairly high for Alabama in 2009, with a very strong defense and plenty of offensive weapons like Mark Ingram; who went on to win the Heisman trophy at the end of the regular season.  Greg was one of the few question marks, but most fans had faith in him.  Faith that he proved worthy of.


As McElroy walked onto the field in Alabama’s 2009 opener against Virginia Tech, he was nervous, and it showed in his first few drives when he missed some open receivers. As the game went on however, Greg calmed down and began to move the ball with the help of Alabama’s great running backs.  He completed a game-changing deep strike to 'Bama receiver Marquis Maze to put Bama on Tech’s 4 yard line.  After that, it was Alabama’s game, who rolled to a 34-24 victory over the Hokies.


Alabama’s next big game, Arkansas, was a 35-7 beatdown, with McElroy passing for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns.  That win was followed by a another solid McElroy performance against Kentucky.

Unfortunately, Greg hit a midseason rough patch, which forced Alabama to rely on stout defense, and Mark Ingram to win games against Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Tennessee.


Greg’s return to form began against LSU, and lasted the rest of the year.  He became a true hero after saving his team from a large deficit against Auburn.  At the end of the regular season, his undefeated streak was preserved.


Greg’s best performance came on one of college football’s biggest stages: the SEC Championship. 


In a twist of fate, on the opposite sideline was be Heisman winner Tim Tebow.  On that day, McElroy, Alabama’s plan B, jumpstarted the Tide with his effort.  On one play, he practically tiptoed along the sideline to pick up a first down. Meanwhile, Tebow struggled in the teeth of Alabama’s defense. 


Greg was named offensive MVP of the game, a 32-13 Alabama win.


On January 7, 2020, Greg was warming up for the national championship game against Texas.  Unfortunately, some of Greg’s ribs were cracked and it affected his game, but his presence and ability to read the Texas defense and find effective run plays helped win the title for Bama.


In the end, Greg McElroy proved through consistent effort, and mostly hard work, anything is possible. 


I’m sure he’s determined to keep his undefeated record intact through 2010 and beyond.


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