Posted on: March 13, 2011 12:48 pm

NCAA Conference Tourneys Live Up to Hype!

OK.  Who else was up last night watching that Big East final between UConn and Louisville?  I like both teams; so, for me it was about watching quality basketball.  But I have to admit that it was hard not to root for Kemba Walker, Roscoe Smith, Coombs-McDaniel, Jeremy Lamb and Alex Oriakhi.  It's not a team of front-page headline stars.  UConn is a team of young players who were mostly dismissed at the beginning of the season.  No one thought that they would make it this far. NIT?  Sure.  NCAA Tourney.  Yeah.  Right.

What makes them stand out for me is the true teamwork and team spirit.  Walker always put the team first, and he inspired his teammates by giving them credit where due, depending on them in clutch situations, assisting as much as possible and never giving up:

"[Kemba] never quit, he never lost faith in me -- he never lost faith in any of us," said Lamb, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. "And that means a lot."

Other teammates echoed that message after the game.

"When you have one of the best point guards in the country, and you're a big man, and he wants to give you the ball, he's confident in you, it makes you that much better," sophomore forward Alex Oriakhi said.  (<cite class="source">Kieran Darcy, </cite> <cite class="source"></cite> ESPN, full story here ).

You can say whatever about Jim Calhoun and the issues preseason and during the season.  For the players, what mattered was being there for each other.  One person's success is everyone's success.  One player cannot win a game.  It takes 5 players working together to win a game.  You may have a star or leader, but he can't do it alone.  Kudos to UConn's players for showing how it's done.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big East
Posted on: March 12, 2011 5:35 pm

Looking forward to Selection Sunday!

At last, the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament selection is around the corner and the Madness will be in full swing.  I'm looking forward seeing the matchups because I have enjoyed the season so far.  Kemba Walker is peaking at the right time, and I'd like to see how Jimmer Frdette fares in the post season, too.  Happy to see that Gonzy will be back.  I just enjoy watching them.  For me, the best thing about the end of the NFL season is that it signals the beginning of the best play in the NCAA games.  My evenings are usually filled with ESPN games.  And when it's all done?  It's Baseball Season, Baby!
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 9, 2011 6:37 pm

College Basketball Does Not Disappoint

Watched quite a few games yesterday, and I am never disappointed.  Teams play with such fervor and pride.  It's great to see in an era where so much is determined by a dollar bill (or several millions).  It's nice to see while it's still a great game to play before it becomes a job.  Not that I begrudge players using their talents to make what they love or what they have as their greatest skill into a career.  In fact, I wish I had that kind of talent.  In the meantime, I will enjoy a good game.  In fact, I can enjoy several.  March is going to be truly Mad!
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: July 3, 2010 9:09 pm

World Cup. It's Madness!

I am crazy about March Madness.  Love college basketball in general, but March is a special time.  Just like baseball on opening day for me.  Just special energy.  First day of Wimbledon and the US Open do that for me, too....

And then there's the World Cup.  Anybody watching this year's WC knows how crazy it can get, and this one has been special in it's madness.  I wanted Spain in the semis, but I wasn't sure if they would wake up from their collective slumber in time.  Well, they did wake up.  It looks like they're peaking now, and that's a relief.  Germany did not come out of nowhere.  They have always been very consistent, and it's a good squad.  Perhaps being good but under the radar has helped, but those who know futbol know better:  Yes, Germany IS that good.  Argentina was not.  Neither was Brazil.  And the Netherlands are that good, too.  They, too, were known to be good enough, but somehow didn't get the notice of the public.  Big mistake.  How come only Brazil seemed worried?  They have the talent, but they understood what it's like to play against a team that a star of legendary quality, who is a playmaker, but - most importantly - is a unifying force.  This is something neither Brazil nor Argentina have - a unifier.  They also don't have the same consistency in the big games.  Why?  Probably ego for Brazil.  They aren't good team players.  Everyone wants that Nike ad moment.  Argentina?  Probably some of the same, but also burdened by a country's expectations.  It can weigh on you.

So, we have  a great set of 4 vying for the last two spots.  Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Uruguay.  Crazy, and yet... not so much.  What a beautiful game.
Category: Soccer
Posted on: March 18, 2010 7:46 pm

NCAA March Madness

OK.  So my brackets are holding up nicely.  However, there are still a ton of games to see in this first round.  YIKES!
However, it doesn't get much better than this.  College Basketball has an excitement and passion that's not rivaled by many other sports.  I look forward to seeing the talent, heart and dedication which is so lacking in other arenas.
And then we have tennis!!  Indian Wells and Sony Ericsson this month, and Champions League action, Rugby Six Nations, baseball around the corner.  Good times.  Enjoy the change of season people.  We need it after this strange and sometimes harsh winter.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 16, 2010 12:25 pm

Tennis Channel on the Sidelines. Again.

As a rabid tennis fan, I'm happy to see the first big open tournament of the season in order to see how players are doing after a crazy 2009.

I am even happier that the Tennis Channel and NBC can't ruin it with their sub-par broadcasting.  ESPN and CBS really know how to present sports:  in general I am not inundated with too much fluff or off-topic talk. If I want to know who's dating whom or what kind of fashion the people wear, I can turn to E or pick up a gossip rag.  When I'm watching sports, I want to hear about the sports.  Tell me how they train. That's ok.  Tell me what they eat.  Passable.  Tell me about the issues facing the game or rules and regs that may change.  Good.  DON'T bother me with hair product (Gimmestob's obsession last year with Verdasco.  A line of commentary meant to be a joke that wasn't, and it went on longer than Energizer's bunny.)  Don't tell me about the flavor of the month whom a player is dating.  Not interested, especially during points.  Want to do extracurricular stuff?  OK.  Do it in a pre-game or post game show.  Not during the event.

So, ESPN will be broadcasting most of the event, with the Tennis Channel picking up the slack.  It's really sad.  Tennis Channel had a real opportunity here.  However, unlike the NBA, NFL and MLB channels, they squandered it.  Instead of focusing on tennis broadcasting and providing info on the game, it's turned into a mash-up of racket sport shows.  There's an MTV Cribs knockoff, a travel show (not bad, but why?), documentaries (nice, at least), racketball and squash matches/tourneys (unecessary filler for a channel named after tennis ) and a host of infomercials.  They got some top talent (Connors, Navratilova, for example), and they are on the sidelines.  Maybe they wanted it that way, but it's kind of odd, given their career history and their general proactivity on issues and sports politics.  The NBA and NFL had a lot of original programming and benefitted from films they themselves produce.  MLB has been building itself with similar programming and new shows based solely on the game.  Tennis channel has not.  The "Academy" show aside, it has done little to create original programming on the game or create a niche for programming that already exists.  For example, ESPN is showing last year's Australian Open matches leading up to the event in order to warm people up and give them an idea of what might be this year.  Tennis Channel is not.  It's taken a "Oh, by the way, the Australian Open is on some time soon..."

So, once again, if you want your sports, turn to ESPN or CBS.  They can be dry at times. They can be a non-sports fan's nightmare with how focused they are.  But you are getting sports.  All of it.  From people who like the sports they are broadcasting, know something about the games, and understand a fan's desire to take it all in.
Category: Tennis
Posted on: January 4, 2010 2:46 pm

Resting Players: Why Not?

I heard all kinds of talk and complaints about the fact that Indy chose to rest its top players as opposed to using them in the past couple of games.  Quelle scandale!  All i can say is, "Get over it!"  It's not a bad idea to rest your players.  In fact, it's good business and strategy.
First off, let's get some practicality in here.  Players get injured. If you're the Colts, you've seen your star injured and in danger of being out for the season.  You have a real chance of making it the Super Bowl, and you want to risk losing your leader who can all but guarantee a win?  Second, using replacements made no difference in the outcome of the team's post season chances.  So, who cares if Bob Smith plays?  Isn't he a member of the team?  Doesn't he get a check for essentially showing up?  Isn't his job to stand in when the first-team guy can't?  Third, fans need to ask themselves:  Is it about your team winning and playing to win, or it about you?  is it all about your selfish need to see your favorite player, or have you invested in tickets and in Sunday afternoons to watch your team win and get to the post-season?  Coaches need to strategize and use their options wisely.  If a coach thinks it's time to let his players rest, and he thinks they deserve it, then sit down and let him do his job.
So, a player rests.  Guess what?  They do it in other team sports, why not in the NFL?  I'd rather let my key players rest and get ready for the playoffs, than see one of them get hurt - as many did January 3 - and then lose those guys when I need them the most.
Category: NFL
Posted on: November 16, 2009 4:25 pm

ATP Rankings: Surprise! 1,2,3= Fed, Nadal, Djoko

OK.  It's been an interesting year.  After all, we saw Federer lose at the Australian Open and declare later that he was happy that the hard court season was over.  We saw Nadal go on a tear until the French Open when he fell due to injury and could not play until the US Open series.  We saw one of the best finals ever (Nadal v Djokovic) which went on for 4 hours in Monte Carlo. We saw both Nadal and Djoko go through some rough patches, but both have come back pretty strongly, as evinced by their performance in Paris this weekend.

We also saw some players whom many pundits saw as contenders NOT do so well.  Murray has been hampered by injury, but he still has a consistency problem.  Simon, too, has had to struggle with knee problems, as had Roddick.  However, some others don't really have an excuse.  Monfils is great when he's on, but he is the not the king of consistency.  Ditto, Soderling.  Verdasco has been around the top 10 like some sort of a yoyo, going from 8 to 15 to 9 and so forth.  Yes, he's been hampered recently, but not to the scale of Nadal or Simon.  The most glaring under performer for me is Del Potro.  I like the guy, but it seems that the hype got to him.  Not in the ego way but in the sense that he seems to be dealing with pressures for which he wasn't completely prepared. 

Regardless, it's interesting that the top 3 last year and for several years now are still the top 3 now.  In spite of all the challenges and setbacks, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic keep defying the critics and the pundits.  It just goes to show you that all of these "professionals" and "analysts" need to do some more studying.  Look, when Johnnie Mac or Mats Wilander speak about tennis and what it's like to be a champion, I'll listen.  When I hear the others talk, I tune out.  Why?  Because unless you've been at the top you have no clue what it's like.  You can try to imagine, but it's not the same as having the mentality and the experience.  Federer knows what it's like to be Number 1 and to stay there.  Nadal knows what it's like to play at that level, and Djoko knows what it's like to be there with them.  And all three are fairly honest about how they feel, what they are experiencing and what they hope to achieve.

So, when I hear that there's someone providing a new challenge, I welcome it, but let's remember this:  Just because others are improving does not mean that the champs aren't also improving.  What?  You think that they stop training? To hear the pundits, you'd think that these guys are complacent men who have nothing to do.  Right.  As Federer noted once, being number 1 is nice, but winning the championships is what you get paid to do.  That brings endorsements.  If you win enough, you'll get to the top. Nadal says being number one doesn't matter as much to him as winning the big tournaments.  Believe it.  He loves to play.  The fire in him is stoked by competition.  He lost sleep over the French Open, not his ranking.  And Djoko will still be around to keep them honest and provide some company for Nadal.  (It was Djoko who was among the entourage of 3 in London for the announcement about his Wimbledon withdrawal.)  2010 is going to be interesting, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see the same 3 in the top spots next year at this time.  They're that good.
Category: Tennis
Tags: ATP rankings
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