Posts Tagged ‘Rose’

Team USA Basketball: Can the U.S. Win Gold Without the Redeem Team?

August 5th, 2010

In previous international competitions, the common lament was Team USA featured too many superstars and not enough role players.

Happy now?

Not only is Kevin Durant the only player on Team USA worthy of an inarguable "superstar" tag, but even role players are coming up short at certain positions.

In other words, Team USA is not an overwhelming favorite to take gold at the FIBA World Championships.

It all starts (and will likely end) with Durant. Unlike the 2008 Beijing squad, there is no debating who the alpha dog is on this team. This is both a blessing and a curse.

There will be no confusion on offense about who is Option A. Don't think opposing teams don't already know this. There is no pick-your-poison dilemma as there was with the LeBron/Wade/Kobe triumvirate. The other countries will do everything they can to deny Durant the ball, daring someone else to beat them.

That's where the uneasiness creeps in. There's no doubt who Option A is, but what about Option B? Who steps up as the beta to Durant's alpha?

The point guard committee seems the most likely source, but its flaws run rampant. Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook all have questionable outside shots, an achilles' heel against zone defenses opposing teams are sure to use.

They all have differing skill sets as well. Rose may or may not be the best penetrator of the bunch. Rondo features the worst jumper, but the best ball-pressure defense. Westbrook is electric, but occasionally trigger happy from the outside.

Chauncey Billups, the veteran leader of the team, will see more crunch-time burn than his predecessor Jason Kidd. Billups' physical style of play combined with his steady playmaking and clutch outside shooting make him the most complete, if least athletic, point guard on the squad.

The X-factor is Golden State's Stephen Curry. The runner-up for Rookie of the Year boasts the best outside stroke other than Durant. Ditto his ability to carve up opposing defenses. The concern with Curry is his slight build (6-3, 185 pounds). Can he withstand the clutching, physical nature of international guard play?

It's all a far cry from Beijing, when Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams and Chris Paul were all available off the bench.

Defensively, Team USA is nearing donut status with its increasing hole in the middle. Already short-staffed on big men, New Jersey Nets big man Brook Lopez pulled out for medical reasons yesterday, leaving Tyson Chandler as the only "true center" on the roster.

Chandler doesn't do much other than rebound and dunk, but he does those two things extremely well. Any caroms off the rim or high-bounce misses are sure to be gobbled up by the lengthy dirt-worker.

Kevin Love, who looked made for international play in practices and scrimmage play, is a lock to make the team. He'll likely share duties at center as well as power forward. His rebounding prowess, basketball IQ and relatively good outside shooting will be vital on the thin USA frontcourt.

Lamar Odom will likely be the other backup at center, with Rudy Gay and Kevin Durant sliding to power forward.

Offensively, it's not big deal. Defensively, it could spell disaster. Physical teams like Greece and Spain love to crash the boards and do so surprisingly well. If Chandler or Love get in early foul trouble (remember, only five fouls allowed as opposed to the NBA's six), offensive boards and second-chance points could kill Team USA.

Taking gold at the Worlds will hinge on two things: tempo and chemistry. Unlike the Beijing group, this squad will still be getting used to each other as the tournament goes along.

If they can get out and run off rebounds and forcing turnovers, they'll be okay. But if contenders Greece, Spain or Argentina slow them down and expose their fundamental flaws, don't be surprised to see the red, white and blue fall.

Then again, can you see Kevin Durant letting that happen? Didn't think so.

NBA Schedule 2010-11: Chicago Bulls Must Quiet Thunder In Season Opener

August 5th, 2010

The NBA recently released a "partial schedule" that highlights some of the biggest games on the biggest days.

Most experts are salivating at the Opening Day match-up between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics.

Yet the battle between the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder could be the more important game of the two.

The two marquee match-ups are actually strangely similar.

The Thunder are a lot like a younger version of the Celtics. Both teams have a core group of players returning. That's Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo for Boston and Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green for Oklahoma City.

Both teams play unselfish basketball and were successful last season. Both gave the Los Angeles Lakers a tough battle in the postseason and have their sights set on dethroning the champs.

Then there are the Bulls and the Heat. Both are expected to be among the best in the NBA, but each squad looks vastly different from last season after getting rebuilt through free agency.

The Heat are a more veteran group, while the Bulls are a youthful bunch.

Just as the Heat have everything to prove come opening tip, so do the Bulls.

Would it surprise anyone to see Durant and Rose butting heads in the NBA Finals sometime in the near future?

Probably not. These are two of the shining stars of Team USA this summer. This match-up is a showcase of the future of the NBA.

The question this opening game will answer is which of them will take the next step first.

If the Bulls want to contend for a title this season, they cannot afford to slip to the bottom of the standings early in the year like they have so often in the past.

Winning against the Thunder would be a major signal to the league and the fans that hiring Tom Thibodeau and adding all the new players were smart decisions.

If the Bulls get off to a slow start, people will start to point fingers, and a new coach with new players does not need the added pressure from the media and fans. It's a recipe for disaster.

Remember the 2007-2008 season, when experts predicted the Bulls would contend for the Eastern Conference crown (and Luol Deng would be an All-Star)?

Well, a 2-10 start to the regular season shot down those expectations in a hurry.

Perhaps losing to a tough Thunder squad would not send an immediate panic throughout Chicago. But a win would certainly give off positive vibes. It would validate hiring Thibodeau, who has never been an NBA head coach before, over big-name coaches.

It would lessen the sting of getting snubbed by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. It might even give the city hope that the Bulls can topple the new evil empire in South Beach. That's a lot riding on the first of 82 regular season games. But in basketball, momentum can shift at a moment's notice.

Chicago needs to quickly get a win under its belt, and beating Oklahoma City would be the perfect time to do so. Unlike the Celtics and Thunder, these Bulls players have nothing to back up the hype surrounding them.

The Windy City's expectations are high. Starting from the opening tip on October 27, the Bulls better do everything they can to meet and exceed them.

NBA Offseason Classification: Bulls, Heat, Jazz and More…

August 4th, 2010

Offseason Classifications

"Pulp, ice and Orange Juice -- can't top it" (Offseason)

1.) Miami Heat: Once Miami Heat felt that ease in doubt from Dwyane Wade, ultimately it led to the signing of Chris Bosh. But as if that wasn't enough, Lebron James decided to sign-on with the super duo, too, assembling the most talented trio to ever exist in any sports league. And with each of the three independently scoring above 20-points per game this past regular season, controlling their three shares as the top-10 reigning scoring leaders, this lends favorable circumstances for borderline NBA talents and veterans chasing their only option to late June.

Statistical Projections
Lebron James
09-10: 30 PTS; 7 REB; 9 AST
10-11: 18 PTS; 13 REB; 12 AST

Dwyane Wade
09-10: 27 PTS; 5 REB; 7 AST
10-11: 23 PTS; 6 REB; 10 AST

Chris Bosh
09-10: 24 PTS; 11 REB; 2 AST
10-11: 20 PTS; 12 REB; 4 AST


2.) Chicago Bulls: Honestly, who could say they saw it coming. Arguably one of the most celebrated NBA franchises outside of the U.S. has finally regained enough assets to compete with the big boys, inspiring fans far back as the 90's to gravitate their interest once more -- or particularly as their last time.

Shooting Guard
IN: Ronnie Brewer
OUT: Kirk Hinrich

Analysis: From start, at the introductory news conference, Bulls newly acquired Shooting Guard Ronnie Brewer spoke of synchronizing his future with the six-time champions, explaining his fit to beat writers and elaborating on sudden cause of motivation to rebound from a fluky 09-10 season.

And just with a few random observations at his length, attacking ability, and getting a feel for his high IQ, there's plenty belief to finger him as next season's Most Improved Player heading into October.

Inversely, Bulls former seven-year veteran Kirk Hinrich, who had to be dealt for flexibility, wasn't in their impending plans after an off sixth year in the league. Had there been no issues for him adjusting to Derrick Rose's style of play, there could easily be reason to repute Hinrich's would-be role in this column for the upcoming season. 

So, gathering from what I've learned, with statistics suggesting Brewer is in pursuit of surpassing Hinrich's steal rate -- with fewer minutes -- there's no contest and there's no doubt that Bulls associated themselves with a heist in this particular signing. Essentially, they acquired a player with no drop-off in defensive principals, gain standard size next to Rose and derived a better contract in the process.


"You could of brought some organic hot-sauce" (Offseason) 

1.) New York Knicks: Coach D'antoni finally has talent to work with, trading for Anthony Randolph, signing Raymond Felton, and drafting Jerome Jordan is anything but an atrocity.

Fans will get a field of vision watching Randolph, their assumed four-man (PF), run designed Pick-and-Pops with star signing Amare Stoudemire.

Even with defense, they still fall no shorter than their upside. Knicks fans will have golden opportunities to cinch how zone-sets can be converted to highlight-reel-esque moments on the other end.

Here are some lineups D'antoni will consummate: And more sure than not, while this looks good on paper, it isn't void of error at all:

PG: Felton
SG: Chandler
SF: Gallinari
PF: Randolph
C: Stoudemire

PG: Randolph
SG: Chandler
SF: Gallinari
PF: Stoudemire
C: Curry

PG: Felton
SG: Douglas
SF: Randolph
PF: Stoudemire
C: Turiaf


2.) Utah Jazz: As much as Jazz active PER points deflated this offseason, with Boozer going to Chicago, so as Korver, and Jazz mid-season dealt and former player, Ronnie Brewer, everything will just about dido by the end of next season. Except the financial landscape, which has Jefferson signing onto another contract in the near future, that will almost certainly be less lucrative due to his health history. So, it's safe to say Jazz plan was brilliantly routed -- less payroll and more bang-for-the-buck.

*Jefferson = Boozer

*Hayward = Korver

*Bell = Matthews


"The sausage is brown on the outside but raw-pink inside" (Offseason)

1.) Milwaukee Bucks: Where does it say in Bill Simmons's book, The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to The Sports Guy, that investing lucrative amounts in 5-year contract deals with journeyman was farsighted.

Prime Example: Drew Gooden - 5/1-year; 6/2-year; 6/3-year; 6/4-year; 6/5-year.

Lets hope Brandon Jennings is enough to catapult Bogut, and the featuring Journeymen, pass John Wall, Rajon Rondo, and yeah, the league's best Point Guard, Derrick Rose.

Sarcasm: "Fear the Buck!"


2.) New Orleans Hornets: "Hey Chris (Paul), we re-signed Aaron Gray (seven-foot, Center)," says GM Dell Demps. "We also heard our new rookie Craig Brackins is better than advertised. Give him a year, maybe Stoudemire-esque?"

"Chris Paul?"

(These quotes are not intended to be disclosed to the Hornets public, nor do they intend to pose as authentic, provoking, or arrogant.)

West Virginia: What’s the Best BCS Arrangement for WVU?

August 3rd, 2010

OK.  I'm the  curmudgeon who, since I began writing for the Bleacher Report and the West Virginia site, has had little good to say about the Bowl Championship Series and its effects on West Virginia and the Big East Conference.

While I was at it, I further blamed the BCS for the shortage of Catholic priests, the overexposure of Peyton Manning, the liberal media, LeBron James' abdication of Cleveland, Bill Belachick, Sarah Palin, and Al Gore.

I thought the BCS was just wrong!

In fact, if you want to read the position I took last year, click on this:

Or, if you want to read just how bad I can get with two controversial topics, click:

In the BCS/Tiger comparison, I bashed Bill Hancock unrightfully, essentially slapping him around for doing his job.

That's wrong.  

If a person's not inherently evil, one must accept that the person may have a point.  I didn't do that.

Here's my mistake...well, it's not a mistake as much as it is an unbending, adamant opinion. Anyway, I wrote that I will accept nothing less than a 16 team playoff very similar to the construct set up by Sports Illustrated which so enamored me.

Not even Sports Illustrated held such an uncompromising position.

And...I will accept nothing less? Like, what would I do? Build a cabin in Montana?

Since then, I've learned from my readers and from those who comment that there are more genteel ways to invoke my opinions in the name of provoking thought.

Now, this is how I feel:

An eight-team playoff is the most workable solution for crowning a national champion in FBS college football. 

(Before I describe how it could be done, I note: If I could have performed a literature review to find out if someone had this idea before me, I would have done it.  So, if it looks like I plagiarized, call it ignorance.) 

This is how it could be done: 


a) The champions of seven conferences, referred to as the BCS Conferences, will receive automatic bids to the eight-team playoff.  The BCS Conferences are the Big East, the Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac-10, the Atlantic Coast, the Southeastern, and the Mountain West. 

b) Tell Notre Dame to take a—just kidding! I'm a Catholic. Things go better in my parish if I like the Fighting Irish. Therefore, Notre Dame can take the eighth spot if they are ranked 10th or better using the current BCS ranking system. 

c) If Notre Dame does not qualify, the highest ranking team that is not a champion of a BCS Conference will be included. This team could be a member of a BCS conference, or not.

d) The eight teams will be seeded one through eight in accordance with the BCS ranking system. The match ups of the seeds will be structured in the typical 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, and 4-5 format.

d) The bowls set up to host the playoff games are 1) the BCS Championship game, 2) the Rose, the Orange, the Sugar, and the Fiesta, the four of which are called the BCS Bowls, and 3) the Cotton and the Gator.

e) The Cotton Bowl and the Gator Bowl will each year host a quarterfinal game. The two will alternate between the 3-6 game and the 4-5 game.

e.1) The inclusion of the Cotton and the Gator in the eight-team playoff system is in effect a promotion for both bowls and should make them very happy.

f) The Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Fiesta Bowl will, alternately among the four, host the other two quarterfinal games, which will be the 1-8 game and the 2-7 game.

f.1) The Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the Fiesta Bowl will scream about this one as if they are being stabbed.

g) After the results of the quarterfinal round are known, the field will be re-seeded for the semi-final round, similar in principle to the NFL playoffs.

h) The BCS Bowls that did not host a quarterfinal game will alternately host the 1-4 game and the 2-3 game.

h.1) Please see f.1.

i) The winners of each semi-final game will meet in the BCS Championship game.  The host city of the BCS Championship game will alternate among Pasadena, Glendale, New Orleans, and Miami.

j) The remaining 28 bowls can set up conference affiliations as they do presently and host their respective bowl games, pairing teams which are bowl eligible with a 6-6 record or better.


In a recent interview with Ray Holloman, FanHouse College Basketball Editor, Bill Hancock had only praise for the college football season and the energy the season brings to the game. 

Mr. Hancock feels that any playoff structure would be risky since, as he states, "no bracket has ever stayed where it started," meaning semis would grow to quarters to 16 to—my words—four 1-8 match ups.

I can see this happening. In fact, it's already happened to college basketball, Mr. Hancock says.  He feels the energy has been sucked out of the regular season. I don't necessarily agree with that statement in that I think February is hot but one sees a lot of empty seats in December.

So, let's look at the possibilities:


a) With four 1-8s after a 12 game season, the championship may come down to injuries. 

b) The SI 16 teams structure will take four weeks. There goes finals week for the field.  I'm serious. Also, to go from a one and two match up to a sweet sixteen would not be possible for BCS minds to garner.  

c) A plus-one is just inadequate.  With a plus-one last year, for instance, it still would have possible (and very tempting) to eclipse Boise State and Texas Christian. In addition, playoffs should take at least the more obvious arguments out of the process. Plus-one may even be more controversial.

That brings us to the eight-team playoff structure. Looks like a good position for the necessary compromise. Eight teams vying for the championship would result in some valid scenarios:


a) If only one team from the conference qualifies, every conference game, including the early conference games, would be absolutely vital. This is especially true for West Virginia, who, with its light out-of-conference slate, must win the Big East championship to have any chance for the national title.

b) Speaking of out-of-conference schedules, does a school 1) go light like WVU, since the odds of getting Notre Dame's slot are slim and none, or 2) stack the out-of-conference schedule with a USC and a couple of Michigan States to prepare for a tough conference run, since the school's inclusion does not depend on the out-of-conference record and the school can sacrifice an out-of-conference loss or two?

c) Say what?

d) Strong or weak, the out-of-conference slate will mean less. Therefore, the scheduling decision goes all the way back

e) An eight-team playoff involving seven conferences effectively is a sixteen-team field because of the conference championship games.

f) How about that? e) is pretty cool.


Therefore, West Virginia would greatly benefit from an eight-team playoff that includes the Big East champion, which the Mountaineers have won twice in the past five seasons. 

As well, WVU could continue to play Coastal Carolina, Liberty, UNLV, East Carolina, and the bottom fishers of the BCS conferences while scheduling the seven games they need to make a lot of money.

Eight-team playoff—ideal for the state of West Virginia and West Virginia University.

NBA Schedule 2010: Looking Forward

August 3rd, 2010

Set to be released August 10th, this year's NBA schedule has many anxiously waiting. Personally, I can't remember the last time a schedule release has been this anticipated, but for good reason.  Let's take a moment and think of some of the exciting match ups this season.

Opening night is a big night for every team, it marks the night each team embarks on their journey towards their goal—a championship.  By no means does the first game determine how good your team is, or how the year will play out.  But it can provide more than its fair share of excitement.

Already leaked on, apparently the state of Florida will start off the NBA season with a bang, as the Magic and Heat are set to match up on October 28th in the Magic's new arena.  The game is to be broadcast on TNT.

Miami will be put to the test immediately.  Can they stop Dwight Howard and the Magic?  How will the Heat's chemistry look?  This game is full of exciting questions and is sure to be entertaining.

I don't know about you, but if that leak is accurate and that's how the 2010 NBA season is truly going to begin, I can't wait to see what the rest of the schedule holds.

A date that everyone loves to talk about is of course Christmas Day.  Every year ABC televises marquee basketball games while Americans and people all over the world tune in while enjoying their holiday.  

The first of potential matchups for Christmas Day is Lakers and Celtics.  This is an obvious one, as both teams are still of elite caliber and always provide exciting matchups.  Not to mention it would be a rematch of last year's finals, as well as one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

Another game we could see is the Heat and Lakers.  This makes the most sense, as the Heat are expected to be the best in the East, and the Lakers are expected to be the best in the West.  Last year it was likewise with Cleveland and Los Angeles.  This year Miami simply takes Cleveland's spot.

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh versus Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.  It's the matchup that has gripped the talks of basketball fans all over.  It's the matchup that has fueled vicious feuds between Heat and Lakers fans on different sites across the internet.  Is there really a better Christmas Day matchup?

An Orlando and Chicago meeting would also promise to be a very entertaining Christmas Day special.  Veteran and All-Star Dwight Howard versus the young and rising Joakim Noah.  Two of the best front courts in the league, as well as two very talented point guards in Jameer Nelson and Derrick Rose.  Again, this is another talent loaded, exciting potential Christmas face off.

The matchups I touched on are just a few of the many exciting possibilities for Christmas Day.

As for general regular season meetings to look forward to, first let's take a look at Miami and Boston.  The new NBA powerhouse versus the old.  The young guys versus their elders.

I believe this matchup actually won't be as exciting as some may think.  Yes, Boston is a proven veteran team with loads of experience and they know how to win.  But they are also old, and lost an extremely valuable asset in Tony Allen. 

Last year Boston had a difficult time defending Dwyane Wade by himself.  What's going to happen this year when they have to guard both Wade and James as well as a talented Heat supporting cast?

If you think I have been a little biased towards the Eastern Conference so far, I will be blunt and admit that I have.  But come on, take a look at the conferences now.  The west is no longer the stronger conference, that title belongs to the east now, thus providing more exciting matchups.

Although there are some exciting meetings in the west, which include the typical Los Angeles and Dallas, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as Denver and Los Angeles.  

But the most exciting matchup in the west in many eyes is going to be the Lakers and the Thunder.  The Thunder put up a great fight against Kobe and the Lakers last year, and I expect more of the same in the future.  Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant will never fail to put on respective shows.  

Don't forget the Golden State Warriors, who made a few solid acquisitions this offseason.  

Back to the east for one last matchup to touch on.

This is going to be one for the ages, in that it will only get better as the years go on.  Chicago and Miami.  I can see a rivalry brewing now.

The Bulls are no longer babies, and the Heat are no longer preparing for the summer of 2010.  Chicago loaded up with Carlos Boozer and Kyler Korver, adding to an already young and talented core of Derrick Rose, Loul Deng and Joakim Noah.  And of course Miami added the talents of LeBron James and Chris Bosh as well as key role players.

The Bulls—Heat matchup will provide plenty of excitement in the next decade, and this year will be just the start.

Overall this NBA season is going to be packed with dynamite as every season is.  For true fans of the game each and every night provides entertainment.

These are some of the matchups I'm looking forward to, how about the readers?




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