Saturday, February 27, 2010

2010 NBA Midseason Thoughts

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I thought I'd throw some 'ledge your way about the NBA, a sport that I have watched maybe a handful of games of so far this season. Does this make me qualified to write about the sport? I say yes, as long as the regular season remains as long and pointless as is. I do always enjoy the playoffs though, and expect this year to be no exception. I even enjoy the debate of which atrocity of play is more costly to the game, the lack of calling a clearly defined rule like traveling, or the flopping that makes it impossible to referee about half of the games. But, I'll appreciate it for what it is, a flawed game of skill that is being played at a really high level right now, forcing an incredible nucleus of young superstars to square off with great pressure to perform each night for their team to emerge victorious.

Let's take a look at some teams making noise in my head...

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Cleveland Cavaliers- This could be the biggest postseason, with the most ramifications riding on it, that we've seen from a team in my lifetime. I believe LeBaron's fate may very well rest on the shoulders of a championship. Think about it, something will be blamed for their loss, and it won't be him. He then contemplates that reason while trying to make his decision, and considers taking his chances elsewhere. And I don't think they will win it all. If you give me the choices of the Cavs, Lakers, or the field, I'm putting my money on the Lakers or the field over the Cavaliers. That means that I think, at the most, they have a 33% chance of winning it all. Which means I think there is at least a 67% chances that The LeBrontosaurus considers leaving. If they win the title he is staying.

New York Knicks- This might mean good news for the Knickerbockers. I think they have the best chance of catching LeBronchitis, aside from Cleveland. There's a good chance that Steve Nash will leave Phoenix and look at rejoining Mike D'Antoni in New York. They could get by giving him the special veteran exemption. They would still have room to sign two more players at or near the max level, let's say they get Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson. Throw in Steve Nash as well as Tracy McGrady, who is just glad to be playing the game and willing to play cheaply fresh off a max deal. That's a pretty good team there. I'd say things are looking up for the Knicks. And the outside shots of LeBronx, Nash, McGrady, and Wade are always fun. Or Dirk reuniting with Nash. Something crazy will happen though, mark my words, and the Knicks will be the most exciting team to watch next season.

Boston Celtics- Too old. They make me think of this Happy Gilmore quote, "But she's an old lady. I mean, look at her. She's old. You can't just take her stuff. She's too old." They just lost to the New Jersey Nets. That marks the end of a season. This leaves only the Magic and Hawks as challengers to Cleveland's conquest to keep LeBronco Nagurski.

Orlando Magic- Exchanged out Hedu Turkoglu (their best player in last year's playoffs) for Vince Carter. Some people saw this as an improvement, but I think they completely downgraded. However, I would support his revivalist party, if it comes to that, because I like players that can prove people wrong (including me). Also, I remain totally underwhelmed with Dwight Howard, who I'm convinced is too happy of a person to truly dominate. He should be evolving into Shaq, but I don't see it happening.

Atlanta Hawks- I predict them to be joining the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. I like how all five of their starters all contribute pretty evenly and compliment each other's skills well. Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Al Horford (only missed one start amongst all five). Their style reminds me of KU's Championship team, which immediately became my favorite style of a team after they won it all.

Milwaukee Bucks- Just wanted to talk about how cool it is what Andrew Bogut is doing for Milwaukee. He bought one hundred court side seats for every home game of the season and gave them away to wild and crazy fans to enhance the atmosphere for home games. He literally had auditions for the tickets and people lose their seats if they miss games or don't stand and cheer from start to finish. This is such a great idea that I would support Bogut on just about any venture in life now. My first move as a sports owner would be to create a grading system of fans, and have the best fans sit closer for each game, and have only the best for the biggest games.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Dallas Mavericks- Back to contendership with the acquisitions of Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, and my bearded mate, DeShawn Stevenson. Plus, the added bonus of addition by subtraction of Josh Howard. They have not lost since the trade, going 8-0, with wins over the Lakers and Hawks). Suddenly have a top 7 of Dirk, J-Kidd, Caron, Shawn Marion, Haywood, Jet Terry, and DeShawn (not to mention Lil' J.J. Barea). Mark Cuban remains the best owner in sports in terms of wanting to win (which is what I want out of an owner). I think we see the Mavericks take on the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, dependant on Dirk's choice of hairstyle come playoff time. Don't let me down. Random Dirk fact of the post: He now ranks 32nd on the all-time scoring list. Who saw that coming from this guy...

Los Angeles Lakers- In my eyes, the overwhelming favorite, which pains me to say. With a title this year, it suddenly seems very possible for Kobe to equal and possibly even surpass Jordan's six. I don't see any way he could surpass him in my mind though, due to Kobe gaining extra years by coming straight from high school, and Jordan exiting the league for two years while in his prime (obviously because he was suspended for gambling). Kobe will have way better stats when it is all said and done though, and he took away the easiest evidence for Kobe haters to use by winning a title without Shaq.

OKC Thunder- Probably my second favorite team in the league right now, despite their obvious error in choice of colors (Thunder= Black and Yellow). After seeing Kevin Durant in college, I thought that he would be the best player in the NBA in five years. We are 2 years away from that. I think he will win an NBA title before LeBronius. The Thunda have the best young nucleus in the league, beginning with the Durantula (21!!!!!!!), swinging towards Russell Westbrook (21) and Jeff Green (23), and finishing with James Harden (20) and Serge Ibaka (20). I envision them to be competing for a title come 2010-11.


Predictions

Eastern: Hawks over LeBronze
Western: Lakers over Dirks
Finals: Lakers over Hawks

Dirkness

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2010 College Basketball Rankings

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His Dirkness' Top 10...and 1

1. Kansas- Hard to believe will probably end with better record than 2008 Championship team in what amounts to as a better conference- Next three games are all very losable- Will be hard to lose if Xavier Henry plays with as much confidence as he is right now- Let me be the first to make the joke of him being the X-factor
2. Kentucky- Mistakenly claimed West Virginia as best rebounding team in the country last rankings- It is actually Kentucky (West VA best offensive rebounding)- Potential downfall will be lack of 3-point shooting- Could have three lottery picks come NBA draft (Wall, Cousins, Patterson)
3. Syracuse- Have now won at West Virginia and at Georgetown- Seem to struggle most against mediocre competition- Patented 2-3 zone is vulnerable to good outside shooting teams- Top 3 teams are a cut above the rest right now
4. Ohio State- Evan Turner. Evan Turner. Evan. Turner.- The rest of the country might have finally caught on to just how good Ohio State and the Player of the Year are- Evan Turner
5. Kansas State- At first glance seem to have accomplished very little since KU defeat- A closer look shows evidence of a very good team by beating inferior teams on the road handily- Possible 1 seed if they can beat KU in Lawrence
6. Villanova- I feel like Scottie Reynolds is the most underpublicized player in the country(He hit the shot to send them to the Final 4 last year-pictured)- Might be a bit worn down after running the gauntlet the second half of the Big East season- Don't see enough size to consider them winning it all
7. Purdue- Very impressive resume- Would be number 4 if they hadn't just lost Robbie Hummel (2nd leading scorer) for the season- Part of the very underrated Big 10 which is right on par with the Big 12 and Big East eons above the ACC, Pac-10, and SEC
8. West Virginia- Big n' rough- Will not go down easy in the big dance- Like their chances of winning it all over the previous two teams- This is how I would build a team if in charge of a program
9. Georgetown- Really up and down- Their efficient offense and size down low make them a scary team come March
10. Duke- I guess? I just can't take them seriously until I'm convinced Coach K is still alive
AND 1. Michigan State- Something doesn't seem fully right with them this year- Will most likely end up being the 4 seed that none of the 1 seeds want to see

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kansas City Chiefs 2010 Offseason Priority List

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Now that Owner Clark Hunt and General Manager Scott Pioli have taken care of two of the biggest offseason needs- General Weis and Colonel Crennel- I think it's time to take a look at what else the Kansas City Chiefs need to address in the about-to-begin offseason.


The Chiefs grabbed some headlines by filling both coordinator positions with high-profile coaches, adding to the momentum gained from the beatdown handed to the Denver Broncos in the last game of the 2009 season. This is important as sometimes late season/offseason momentum can lead directly into positive early season results. This will be a unique offseason due to the bigwigs trying to ruin the game we love by arguing over the viable owners of millions of dollars. This will result in the least active free agency in many years because of the fact that players will need six years of experience to become unrestricted free agents instead of the normal four. What does this mean? Teams will need to either sign free agents that are 29 years or older or give up draft picks as compensation to sign players that are in the prime of their careers. I believe this leads to free agency becoming almost inconsequential while we will see a big jump in the number of trades. This is good news for the good teams and bad news for teams needing to improve a lot, which means the Chiefs will have to act swiftly and precisely to make the necessary upgrades to compete next year.

First off, the list needs a few guidelines to follow for legitimacy purposes. It is based on the individual position most in need of an effort to upgrade before the start of next season. Importance of position is a factor, meaning even though Tight End may be the team's worst position in terms of talent, it's not as important as another position in terms of winning. I tried to imagine my feelings going into the start of next season with the exact same personnel of that position from last year. This paragraph was extremely difficult to find the correct wording, so lets just pretend we're all on the same page and get on to the list...


Chiefs Top 10 Positions of Need:

1. Outside Linebacker- Defense will become legitimate once Tamba Hali is the second best outside linebacker/pass rusher, it is THAT important of a position to a 3-4 defense. Mike Vrabel and Andy Studebaker would make a great pair of backup OLB's. Julius Peppers could fill the position, but I can't imagine the Chiefs spending the necessary money for the prize of free agency. Shawne Merriman's freedom gets costly due to the new restrictions, but could be available for the right draft picks. Joey Porter might be the most likely free agent to fill the hole and would provide great leadership to a defense lacking in that area. A few potential early round prospects who I like are Jerry Hughes (TCU-2nd-mean-proved by picture) and Eric Norwood (South Carolina-3rd-quick). I would make a play for Joey Porter and draft Norwood in the third or wait until next year and go after one with a first round pick.

2. Slot Wide Receiver/Returner- I might be suffering from a severe case of Lance Longitis to have this position so high. The receiving corps is set with Chambers (if we resign him) and Bowe (if we don't trade him) on the outside, but has a huge hole to fill with a quick slot receiver to work underneath. I think the draft is the right place to find one and would love to hear any of the following names called: Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati-2nd), Jordan Shipley (Texas-3rd), or Jacoby Ford (Clemson-4th). The only other option might be to work out a trade for Steve Breaston, who Todd Haley knows well from Arizona.

3. Safety- The first position on the list that will be possible to address with the Chiefs current first round positioning. Eric Berry will most likely be the selection if he is still available, but there is a very good chance that he goes third to the Redskins. The draft is definitely the way to go because of the need to get younger at the position. Chad Jones (LSU-2nd/3rd) is someone I'm really high on. Mike Brown might look better paired with a more talented safety, and would serve as the perfect tutor for either Berry or Jones.

4. Center- Rudy Niswanger does a decent job, but is just too small and gets pushed around too much, especially when matched up against a 3-4 Nose Tackle. This became the weakest spot on the offensive line once Wade Smith solidified the Right Guard position in the second half of 2009. This is a position that I would address through free agency, because it is smart to have an experienced center to deal with all of the line calls.

5. Middle Linebacker- Demorrio Williams and Derrick Johnson would make a mediocre pair of starting Linebackers going into next year. It would be better to have them split time and get actual NFL talent at the position (sorry Corey Mays and Javon Belcher). This brings me to who I would take with the first round pick--Rolando McClain (Alabama-pictured). I feel like he would immediately step in as the defensive leader at the position best designed for leadership. This defense has not had a strong leader since the Mike Maslowski days. Other options include Brandon Spikes (2nd round slide) or a pair of veterans in Antonio Pierce or Keith Bulluck.

6. Nose Tackle- Ron Edwards does an unheralded job playing a little undersized at the nose. He would be a fantastic rotation guy, but doesn't quite cut it full time. Look for the top two tackles to get franchised out of consideration (Vince Wilfork and Casey Hampton). An interesting option could be Ryan Pickett, who will most likely be let go after the Packers drafted B.J. Raji in the first round last year. Draft options would include Terrance "Mount" Cody (Alabama-2nd-Man Boobs) or Cam Thomas (North Carolina-3rd). I'd be very giddy to snag McClain and Cody in the first two rounds of the draft.

7. Offensive Tackle- This is all dependant on if Branden Albert stays at Left Tackle or makes a switch to either Right Tackle or a guard position. We cannot continue to have this conversation every offseason, so a final decision needs to be made once and for all. The most popular prediction for the Chiefs first round pick is an offensive tackle (Okung-Okla St, Davis-'Gers, Baluga-Iowa), which isn't what I'd do per say, but I'm not totally against it. I would keep him at Left Tackle and make him put the weight back on that limited him last year. Ryan O'Callaghan even looked good the second half of the season at Right Tackle (funny how the whole line's play improved once JamaAl replaced L.J.). This will be the most important decision regarding the current personnel of the team to be made this offseason.

8. Big Running Back- Big drop off from the top 7 biggest needs this offseason. The draft is definitely the way to address a viable backup to JamaAl, who's role will be to log 10 carries a game, including 3rd and 1's and goal line carries. He should come from the later rounds and a few names I would like to see include Toby Gerhart (Stanford-3rd), LaGarrette Blount (Oregon-5th), or Stafon Johnson (USC-6th/7th). And I don't want to hear any Ladainian Tomlinson chatter, our team is already classy enough, and he sucks now.

9. Tight End- Very little currently on the roster, but neither Haley's Arizona teams nor Weis' New England teams had star tight ends. Leonard Pope is good enough for now with how many needs there are. I would not be surprised at all to see us go after free agent Ben Watson out of New England. I just don't want to see us draft one in the 2nd or 3rd round (unless Jermaine Gresham slides big time), but Kris Wilson and Brad Cottam have ruined me.

10. Offensive Guard- It will be very interesting to see what the Chiefs do with Brian Waters this offseason. There was some definite turmoil between Waters and the new regime that could end up with him being traded for a draft pick. If that happens, than this position shoots way up the list. Wade Smith did a fairly good job last year but is a free agent himself. This position is a circumstantial need. Getting Mike Iupati in the 2nd round would be great value and would be a rock for a decade at guard.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

2010 Super Bowl XLIV Preview

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Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints

I'd like to start by saying that I've been very unintrigued by this game even though I think it is a close matchup of teams and think the game will be relatively close. I think the reasoning stems from both teams being offensively based. I like games with good defense, where 3 and outs aren't always a bad thing, and the distances of punts make a difference. Instead it's become a human vs. human game of Madden where games are decided by Red Zone efficiency and who's lucky enough to force fumbles. This isn't the fault of the two teams playing, it's just the latest example of how the game has changed. Hate the game, not the player. Rule changes have all been made in the offense's favor which has depreciated my interest in what I once saw as the perfect professional sports league. I don't believe this opinion is shared with the vast majority of fans (who are more interested in higher fantasy numbers), so it is tough for me to put any blame on the NFL, but I'd like to believe there are some purists out there that went to see an even balance in the rules of the game. Oh well, I guess I still have Big Ten Football. On to the game...

Legacy Games:


Peyton Manning- With a victory, he can enter the discussion of the greatest quarterback of all time. There is no G.O.A.T. right now, only a discussion (Elway, Montana, Marino, Favre, Manning, Brady, Unitas, and Seneca Wallace). Peyton has the chance to become the GOAT if he wins three Super Bowls. He has the chance to become the greatest of his generation (over Brady) if he wins this game. His two Super Bowls would eclipse Brady's three for three reasons: 1. His numbers are way better. 2. Brady had the benefit of playing with possibly the greatest coach of all time, Bill Belichick, and was thus equipped with a top of the line defense throughout his career. 3. At any point during their careers, if you took away both Manning and Brady from their teams, the Colts would suffer more because of it. For the record, I have Manning over Brady already.

Drew Brees- With a victory, he can enter the discussion of the greatest quarterbacks of his generation, and perhaps become the best current quarterback. The only thing he is lacking from the top ones as of now is years of stats to pile up and postseason success. He's well on his way as far as stats go, and this game could answer the playoff questions. He seems destined for Hall of Fame borderline status and this game may become the decider.

Teams:

New Orleans Saints- I can't find one reason to pick the Saints in this game (not always a bad thing, especially in the NFL). I don't think they'll be able to challenge the Peytons on offense. They thrive off of turnovers- interceptions that Peyton won't throw and fumbles that it's hard to imagine repeating itself from the NFC Championship. Let's be honest, the Vikings dominated that game and would've won if not for fumbling 18 times- and they could've still easily won. Brees did not look very good the entire second half and they penaltied their way to the game winning field goal. Their best chance is to find a way to capitalize on the injury of Marlo Freeney (HUGE) with some slow developing, deep crossing routes, and to create some big plays after the play has broken down. Bring your Michael Scott improv skills, Drew.

Indianapolis Colts- Peyton is in the zone. Pocket passing quarterbacks hit their prime at about 33-35 as long as they stay injury free in their career. It appears that Peyton has come around from his playoff failures in the past, as he is no longer afraid of any game or deficit facing him. Seemingly. The only way the Saints win this game is if Peyton starts to feel the weight of all the legacy talk going around this week. If he reaches a comfort zone its game over. The injury of Freeney is huge for their defense. He was probably the third best player in the game (Manning, Brees). Bring your steroid shots, Dwight.

Prediction:

Low scoring in the first half as they feel each other out and everyone is surprised at the "defensive battle". Scoring picks up in the second half as Peyton starts to dissect the Saints defense. Brees in turn presses and makes some mistakes. Colts cruise in a game with little second half intrigue that is decided in the third quarter.

Colts 27, Saints 16
MVP: Dallas Clark

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2010 College Basketball Rankings

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His Dirkness' Top 10 (AND 1!):

1. Kansas- Sherron Collins will be the most feared guard in the country come tournament time- Don't want to be the favorite going into tournament given past history but they are right now
2. Syracuse- Developed a case of the first half struggles lately but really developing a knack for winning- Wes Johnson is a stud
3. Kentucky- DeMarcus Cousins might be the most feared big man come tournament time- Can Calipari handle an upset John Wall?
4. Villanova- Top 4 teams have really separated themselves- Love Lil' Scottie Reynolds' game- Do they have the necessary bigs to win come March?
5. West Virginia- The Big East is good- One of the two best rebounding teams in the country (both intimately touched by Bobby Huggins-look at those threads)- It would be awfully fun if they were to play each other
6. Kansas State- The other of those two teams- Proof that you can be mediocre in all areas yet superior in rebounding and be a top 6 team- Denny Clemente is the most overrated player in the country
7. Ohio State- Should only be judged on games that Evan Turner (who is my Player of the Year right now) has played in
8. Michigan State- In BIG trouble if Kalin Lucas' ankle injury was as serious as it appeared to be- Top 5 team with him at full health
9. Georgetown- Put the beatdown on Duke that I thought they would- Greg Monroe and his beard could continue the tradition of G-Town big men
10. Baylor- Maybe a bit too high for them but it's time for my annual smitten time with Baylor basketball- The most underrated team in the country
11. Connecticut- What? They're on the bubble? Nah, I'm talking about the women's team here- Could beat Duke any day of the week- Take that Duke!

Dirkness
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