Archive for the ‘the next level’ Category

Sports Linx 06.26.08

June 26, 2008 Comments off

Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon choked general manager Ed Wade during an argument.

In Euro 2008, Turkey finally loses. But not without another ill last 15 minutes goal, which was answered in the 90th minute by a German goal for the win.

Tonight is the NBA draft; Chad Ford and Bill Simmons chat about the top picks (I like Chad Ford’s work, and his comments here).

The University of South Florida recruit Dwan McMillan has problems with his academic record and will likely not suit up for South Florida this coming season.

Photos from the Steve Nash charity soccer event in Manhattan, including Theirry Henry, Baron Davis, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, and Jason Kidd.

The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy disagrees with he feasibility of Brandon Jennings’ European basketball plan, making salient logistical points. I don’t agree with all his assertions, but why would a European team make an investment, and then, why would they play him?:

It starts with the notion there would be a huge market for a player in Jennings’ circumstance. His stated intention is to be a part of the 2009 draft. So why would a European team want to make any sort of investment in him? The agent wouldn’t rule out the possibility that some rogue owner might take a flyer, but he considers it highly unlikely. He said it’s not like it was when Danny Ferry was lured to Europe for a time after he went No. 2 overall in the 1989 draft. The money is not as loose for American players now.

“The only guarantee with contracts in Europe,” he said, “is that you’re guaranteed not to get all the money you’re expecting.”

There also is the fact we’re talking about Jennings, not LeBron James or Greg Oden or even O.J. Mayo. Jennings is an appealing prospect for the Arizona Wildcats, but he is not nearly as well known or established as some of his predecessors. He is a score-first point guard, and European coaches, who tend to be “play the right way” types in the Larry Brown mold, are unlikely to be excited about his style.

Many teams in Europe are loathe to play the young talents that are homegrown and under contract. French big man Alexis Ajinca should be one of the first international prospects taken in Thursday’s draft; he averaged 11 minutes a game for Hyeres-Toulon last winter. Turkish center Omer Asik, another first-round prospect, got about 18 minutes a game for Fenerbache in Euroleague competition.

In order to actually play, Jennings might have to go to a much lower level where the salaries are limited and collecting at payday can be an adventure. Indeed, if any of those teams will have him.

This is not the revolutionary moment in basketball that opponents of the NBA’s draft age limit dream it to be. Even if Jennings were find an interested team, sign a lucrative deal, navigate the likely cultural and linguistic barriers, crack his team’s lineup and excel on the floor — he’s more likely to go 0-for-5 in those pursuits than 5-for-5 — this still would not be the best avenue for elite prospects to follow because it removes players from the consciousness of the American sports fan.

NCAA antagonists have convinced a generation of players their time in college basketball is uncompensated, but it’s a lie. Beyond the education, living expenses and high-level training provided to all Division I basketball players, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony signed contracts with Nike worth a combined $81 million based on the reputations they gained in one college season each — Durant as 2007 national player of the year, Anthony as 2003 NCAA Tournament most outstanding player. They became famous, and therefore their endorsements became valuable, because of college basketball. There would be precious little marketing appeal in a player who went from Oak Hill Academy to Europe.

Sports Links 06.20.08

June 20, 2008 1 comment

Youppi! Playing hockey? (the I can’t work anymore version)

  • Youppi needs to leave that hockey alone and come back to baseball. It’s not the same without the coolest orange mascot.

UNC Players Returning to School

June 16, 2008 Comments off

Well, looky here. Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and even Danny Green are returning to Chapel Hill for their senior season.

Now, UNC Fans write a nice note to Ty Lawson on his Facebook page. Say you’re sorry for raining messages about him being the “next Joe Forte” on his head.

h/t to Slam Dunk Central

Sports Tip Drill 06.16.08

June 16, 2008 2 comments

Me? I’ve been summering it up and welcoming expatriate New Yorkers, watching the trees twist in the wind when it storms, and watching Euro 2008. Are you NOT watching this? This tournament is reminding me what good futbol/ soccer can be – tense, ridiculous, with leads just hanging on a string.

We were cheering for Turkey (there’s Turkish history on my fiancee’s side, and I didn’t like the cut of the Czechs’ jibs), but while they were fighting to tie the game up, they gave up a second goal. All was lost… until it was not. The first goal was nice, but the second (how the keeper didn’t hang on to that ball was beyond me. Or a testament to being tired.) and third were the comeback we never thought we would see. Absolutely incredible. I haven’t said that many holy sh*ts since… well, it’s been a long time.

edit: Deadspin’s narrative about the game. I can go on for days about how incredible this was.

(I can’t embed the video from MySoccerMedia, so enjoy video highlights of Turkey vs. Czech via link, please.)

Only thing: the freaking goalie makes a save and, to the side, shoves an opposing player, getting kicked out with a red card. In the 91st minute. So he’s out for the next game. Nice work, dude.

+ Top NYC guard Lance Stephenson lists his prospective schools as Kansas, UCLA, USC… and possibly St. John’s, in the way that vowels sometimes include “Y”.

+ This is how South Florida creates a program: another guy with eligibility problems in Gus Gilchrist, former Maryland recruit… who was a Virginia Tech recruit before that… will now transfer to USF. He’s highly regarded, and a great get for Stan Heath:

As a senior at Progressive Christian, Gilchrist averaged 22.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. He initially signed early with Virginia Tech in November 2006, but opted out of his letter of intent because of the tragic April 2007 shootings. He enrolled in Maryland in January 2008, but the Atlantic Coast Conference ruled Gilchrist would not be eligible until January 2009 and would lose a year of eligibility because he had previously signed with another ACC school. This decision prompted him to leave Maryland.

“No one ever told him about it [the transfer rule],” Woody said. “They sprung it on him. He could have gone to any school in the country after Virginia Tech.”

Maryland’s appeals to have Gilchrist eligible this fall were denied, so that’s why Gilchrist left Maryland, Woody said.

Woody said USF would begin the process Monday to appeal to the NCAA for a hardship waiver that would allow Gilchrist to play this season at USF. If the appeal is not successful, Gilchrist would not be able to play at USF until the 2009-10 season.

+ Costs to Indiana University from the Kelvin Sampson basketball violations.

+ Voluntary restrictions for college coaches with respect to letters of intent for pre-high school athletes? Myles Brand finds them untoward, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches is looking for a voluntary ban on signing kids who can’t drive to basketball commitments.

Meniscus repair+ West Virginia forward Joe Alexander is staying in the draft (where he can’t beat up on St. John’s anymore). Kansas State forward Bill Walker hurt an already-injured knee, but wants to stay in the draft. Jeff Goodman reports that it’s a partial tear in the meniscus. What’s that, you ask? To the right is a picture of a knee.

+ Ray Allen left after last night’s NBA Finals game after hearing learning about a health issue involving one of his children, possibly diabetes. Good luck, Ray.

+ Rashard Mendenhall has some beef with Ron Zook and the Illinois football program. H/T to AOL Fanhouse.

+ Zach Randolph and his entourage get into a fight in Portland. *Smacks Head*

+ Becky Hammon is playing for Russia in the Olympics, though she has no ancestral ties.

+ Willie Randolph might be safe from being fired, but Mr. “I can fix Victor Zambrano in 10 minutes” Rick Peterson might be looking into unemployment benefits.

Sports Links 06.03.08

June 3, 2008 Comments off

*Oliver Perez… didn’t get out of the first inning of last night’s game against the FREAKING GIANTS.

Incredibly, Perez offered little in the way of an explanation – or an apology to his teammates. For a guy that already has been called out by Billy Wagner for quitting back on April 30, not to mention a free agent gunning for a huge contract, Perez once again seemed oblivious afterward.

“It’s not the only one and it’s not going to be the last one,” said Perez, suggesting that his next flop could be as soon as five days from now. “It’s one of those days you want to forget.”

*Moises Alou takes back what he said about Bartman not being responsible for the Cubs collapse in 2003, insisting once again that he would have caught the ball. No mention of how his team booted the REST of the inning. Just the other day, I started mouthing off to some Cubs fans ’round my corner when a dude dropped a ball and his friends called him “Bartman.” Let the poor Bartman alone!

*Major League Baseball’s case to have player names and statistics tied to copyright law (so that the MLB could then control which fantasy leagues could use those names and numbers, for a fee of course) was not heard by the Supreme Court; an interview from CNBC with MLB’s CEO Bob Bowman on the case and its aftermath.

*Now that the Less Devilish Rays are winning on the field, they hope to win a St. Petersburg City Council vote for a new stadium. I saw “redevelopment” in this article and I rolled my eyes.

Bike Accident in Mexico*A really effed up bicycle accident; one person died when a drunk driver, asleep at the wheel, plowed into these cyclists in a Mexican race.

*Flip Saunders “not coming back” to coach the Pistons. Here, I’d expect to see Avery Johnson take the reins.

*The Spurs are in worse shape for a high level comeback from this season’s disappointing results, according to John Hollinger; their players are all old and they have little else in the pipeline.

*A look at some of the college seniors expecting to be picked in this year’s NBA Draft from Storming the Floor.

*A look at Florida Atlantic’s hiring of former St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis with some statistical elements from Basketball Prospectus.

*The NY Giants’ Osi Umenyiora held a black tie event for his Strike 4 A Cure charity, focusing on AIDS and Alzheimer’s Disease.

*The St. Louis Rams’ lease calls for their stadium to be “state of the art” by 2015… and the “we need a new stadium” talks begin.

*The Jets, a surprise team this year? P…p-playoffs?!

Brigitte Bardot contempt* Did you know that Brigitte Bardot has gone from a fine film career and sunning in Buzios, Brazil (where she has a sculpture) in the 60s to a fervent anti-Muslim? She caught a fine for a letter she sent to then-Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy for inciting racial hatred.

One day, this could be your favorite idolized film star, far right, married to a “former” member of the racist National Front. And I know she loves France and is a French nationalist, but doesn’t she know that in the US, you can’t be fined for racist speech?

Sports Links 06.02.08

June 2, 2008 Comments off

It’s supposed to be the dead period for college basketball. A few odds and ends players for the class of 2008 are still out there, as are junior college players; the coaches soldier on. There ain’t no news yet, so here’s a link dump – the lazy refuge of the dedicated daily(-ish) blogger.

* Rivals gives grades for (the more high-profile) recent men’s basketball head coaching hires. The short version: Montgomery (CAL) A+, Crean (IND) A-, Johnson (LSU) B-, Buzz Williams (MARQ) D, Ford (OKST) B, Craig Robinson (ORST) C+ , Davis (PROV) C+, Horn (SoCAR) C+, Dawkins (STAN) C.

My take:

Mike Montgomery (CAL) B+ (some underachiveing teams in his record, and how often did he get to the final 4? Let’s not blow him up too high),
Tom Crean (IND) A (he built a pretty good program though he couldn’t get good bigs to the smaller school; he’ll be killing it at Indiana),
Trent Johnson (LSU) B+ (kept a solid Stanford tradition going in a tough conference),
Buzz Williams (MARQ) C- (no good track record here…),
Travis Ford (OKST) B+ (I think he has a very good basketball mind, but he needs to actually get to the tournament),
Craig Robinson (ORST) C+ (tough job out there. But he is Barack Obama’s brother in law. So benefit of the doubt.),
Keno Davis (PROV) C+ (good year, but no east coast recruiting ties to a tough school to recruit to),
Darrin Horn (SoCAR) B+ (he’s a pretty dang good coach),
Johnny Dawkins (STAN) D (another Duke assistant? A rookie coach? In the PAC 10? Montgomery is going to have him for lunch.)

* Feet in the Paint calls out the NBA’s Good Ol’ Boy network. Doug Collins over Avery Johnson or… a bunch of other people who didn’t show themselves to be a mediocre coach while with the Wizards? Really?

Gransberry* Kentrell Gransberry, formerly of the U of South Florida, tries to up his draft stock at the pre-draft camp. He impressed a little bit it seems .

* Fans shouldn’t boo Tatis for wearing #17, they should cheer him. If the Mets retire his number it’s one thing, but come on!

* Look at all these (baseball) rumors from Jayson Stark. Minaya is feeling a trade coming on… maybe it’s time to unload Heilman.

Unsports related:

* Kevin from the first Real World is running for Congress in Brooklyn.

*And my new favorite George W Bush quotable, which echoes Rod Steiger’s general character in Mars Attacks (.wav file):

“Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.

“There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!”


June 2, 2008 Comments off

I hate to see a young player get caught in a scandal; and OJ Mayo’s business recently got put on blast, as you probably know. A member of his “entourage”, Robert Guillory, told ESPN that Mayo has taken money from a runner (intermediary) for an agent or agency group, so that when he finished his freshman year of college (and decided to go pro as everyone knows he would) Mayo would sign with that agency group. Yes, that’s kind of sleazy. And yes, Mayo shouldn’t take the money, because it’s supposed to be against the rules.

When Mayo got outed, everyone had an opinion, and wanted to attribute blame. Here, blame should have a strong corrective function – to make the public aware of whose “fault” it is, and therefore give us all a villain in this crime.

Some writers, like the ever-opinionated (and that’s a good thing) Gary Parrish used the “upbringing” canard. Okay; upbringing certainly has something to do with what a young player does and how he’s on the take. But the opposing ideal that Parrish mentions? Kevin Love, another one-and-done college player out of UCLA. His uncle and cousins are members of the Beach Boys; Love is white; and his father is a retired basketball player and they’re not poor.

Mayo, on the other hand, has not apparently had much family around him.

Parrish intimates that this kind of relationship that the older man (Guillory) had with Mayo could be prevented by simply having parents around. Like the players with a parent around aren’t getting gifts? Does Parrish think the gifts stop with the free shoes that every high end player gets just for playing on an Amateur Athletic Union team? How is it these kids can travel, if many of them are poor, anyway? It’s certainly, certainly not just Mayo.

Stephen A Smith, in a fit (or return to?) solid writing, makes the point: What’s the big deal?

To me, a big deal is the player who continues to be violent off the court, the kind of player who steals from others or otherwise commits criminal acts. Or the player receiving money from gamblers to shave points or throw games. This whole player-receiving-payments? The kind of thing that happened at St. John’s? And at Ohio State? And at numerous other schools, whether publicized or not?

Certainly, I don’t want to see players taken advantage of. Making it rainThere has to be some way of educating players on how to make and keep their stacks of loot. And the ability of boosters to pay a player has an effect in bringing top level talent to schools. But if the school is not involved? If it’s just the player? The NCAA should get involved when the allegations come to light, but we should not all pretend like we’re all shocked about it.

It happens.

Dudes are getting paid. It’s unsavory. But it’s not an example of the poorest of poor character. It’s not high character, either. But it is what it is; a part of the game.

In related news, Michael Beasley has been often tacked with the same issues – “character questions, “upbringing.” Jeffrey Martin of the Wichita Eagle writes a good article which sums up a lot of what’s open knowledge about Beasley – he’s a freaking kid! He’s 19! He’s not yet a man (Coach Gundy video)! But he’s not a menace to society. He doesn’t pay attention to authority figures… like so many other people. He tagged some bumpers. He’s just a goofball. How old do you want him to be, to paraphrase Beasley himself?

And here is private investigator Michael Buckner, who would like to make money assisting the BCS conference schools in vetting their choices of players:

A Division I university has time and resources for only so much. A typical school might welcome 200 new student-athletes on campus each fall. The colleges ensure each academically qualifies, but most don’t do thorough background checks on every recruit. That’s part of the reason Maryland offered a basketball scholarship to Tyree Evans last month without knowing the extent of his criminal history. (After much scrutiny and the revelation of five criminal charges, Evans withdrew his application last week.) In cases like Evans’, all you might need is a computer, Internet access and about 10 minutes to pull up court records.

In Mayo’s case, his circle of suspect characters had been noted in media reports for a couple of years. Buckner said if the information and allegations that have been reported prove to be true, the circumstances surrounding Mayo’s missteps could have been discovered long before ESPN cameras played gotcha journalism and long before Mayo had even put on a USC jersey.

“Our services will provide the USCs of the world a resource where we can go out and do the legwork, the proper due diligence of these blue-chip, high-profile prospects,” Buckner said. “That way, the prospect and his or her family are cleared of any type of rumors or innuendo out there, the school is protected, and if there’s anything that comes up later on, they can say, ‘Hey, we did everything within our power to make sure we complied with NCAA rules.'”

It’s too early to tell whether schools will take advantage of this new service, but Buckner said he plans on blanketing the remaining Division I universities with information next week.

What will this service entail? It will have to include more than legal information, for a player like OJ Mayo has never been convicted of or accused of anything (though the referee incident in Mayo’s high school game (video) indicates a problem… though the ref clearly flopped). Will it delve into the “value structure?” Who the parents are? Their ability to be financially compromised? Whether anyone in the player’s circle knows “Worldwide Wes?” And of course, who pays for this work? Will this be public? Semi-public?

And a strong reason why this will never make money: one private source will know which players are getting extra gifts (and phone calls) from schools, who has boosters looking into getting so and so’s parents a job conveniently near campus… the schools don’t want to stop all that, do they? Because it’ll affect which players come to that school.

But Buckner couldn’t have helped Gary Williams and Maryland with vetting Tyree Evans who recently asked out of his letter of intent to Maryland’s basketball team. The information on Evans was out there, from when Huggy-Bear wanted to recruit him to Kansas State, to his statutory rape arrest with teammates when he was a Cincinnati recruit, and on and on. More information on Evans here, including an excellent Luke Winn piece in Sports Illustrated. Because issues or not, a coach with a dearth of talent, even a 600 win coach, knows that you’re only as good as your last few years. And Williams’ recruiting and on-court results have been mediocre in recent seasons; a coach will take whatever steps necessary to bring in high-end talents.

“Upbringing” be damned. Relationships be damned. The only thing that keeps a coach employed is winning.