Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Holy Cow, Cubs Win, Cubs Win!!!

They said this day would never come. Some thought it might mark the end of the world. But if Auburn can win a national championship (for the time being), why can't the 5/6 year old Millbrook Cubs win a game??? They were so close the week before, losing 6-5 to the Red Sox in a game filled with controversial calls and rulings.

But the unthinkable happened Tuesday night in Millbrook as the stars in this universe alligned just right. The team that could not scratch the win column defeated the Mets 10-0 just a few weeks after getting manhandled by the the Mets on opening day.

Things started off beautifully for the Cubbies as Tyler Bullard and Luke Young led off the game with back to back singles. Then following an Earl Weaver prescription, the Cubs dialed up a 3 run homer off the bat of Kal Ingram to race to the 3-0 lead.

The offensive onslaught coninued when Cole Drummond and Hunter Atkins reached base and the score worked itself to 5-0. But the damage was not done yet as the Cubs loaded the bases. In so many instances the Cubs could never get that big hit to break a game open as they have struggled with runners in scoring position. But this time, the order worked its way back to the top and Tyler Bullard cleared the bases with a grand salami enroute to a 9-0 lead.

A stifling defense continued to blank the dreaded Mets and the Cubs would add another run to win 10-0, thus breaking the longest lsoing streak in the MYDBL. Thankfully, the 10 run rule was invoked just before the power outage occurred at the MYDBL fields. Rumor on the street is that a car accident caused a power outage but I think it was the offensive explosion by the Cubbies that blew that transformer. Maybe the Cubs are poised to make a run in the 2nd half of the season after the Easter Break, time will tell.

But if you're a gambling man, Tuesday was the night for you. You should have played the lottery because you would have won, gone in all in at the Blackjack Table or bet it all on red. If not, you missed your chance. 20 years from now, people will ask where you were when this event happened, will you remember where you were you heard, "Cubs Win, Cubs Win?"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time for the broom?

Surprise, surprise, but the amazingly the Boston Celtics are on the verge of a sweep of the New York Knickerbockers. Despite being outplayed for large portions of games 1 and 2, the Celtics found a way to out execute New York in the final 2 minutes of each contest to pull out last second wins. Then in Game 3, playoff basketball returned to Madison Square Garden only to see the would be patrons file out early as the C's torched the Knicks.

Why have the C's gotten to this point so quickly, as it almost looks like a replay of 2010? The injuries to Amare Stoudamire and Chancy Billups have severly wonded the Knicks, but they had leads into the final seconds of the first two games. Each meaningful regular season game reflected the games in Beantown, with the Knicks racing too leads and seemingly in control, only to have Boston out execute New York in crunch time and pull out close wins.

The biggest mismatch in this series has been the coaching mismatch, as the masterful Doc Rivers has outmanuvered Mike Dantoni in each contest. Game 1 saw Rivers draw up a perfect two for one play in the final 40 seconds with an inbound lob pass to Kevin Garnett, followed by a defensive stop then a slice cut off a screen to a wide open Ray Allen for the game winner. Game 2 saw an isolation for a Kevin Garnett jump hook followed by a quick double team/chase of Carmello Anthony that led to a turnover and a win. Game 3 for some reason watched the Knicks play zone in the 2nd half against Ray Allen and Paul Pierce who dropped bomb after bomb on the Big Apple. Add in the riduculous decision not to guard Rondo and let him regain his mojo to do whatever he likes, the Celtics are now on the verge of a sweep and some much needed rest for a round 2 showdown against Miami.

With the way the C's limped into the post season, it was again hard to see this coming but here we are with a replay of 2010 happening right in front of us again. Let's hope it continues on into June.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Get out the cole slaw and baked potatoes...

..cause the Boston Celtics are done.

The perplexing decision of trading Kenderick Perkins and Nate Robinson for Jeff Green and some stiff from Europe continues to reign down on a Boston team that seemed to have its way through the first 2/3 of the season.

Instead of having home court advantage for the entire playoffs, the C's have fallen back to the 3 seed in the East, being bullied by the Bulls and Heat in meaningful late season road games. The toughness that was the Boston Celtics now resides in Chicago. At this rate, Boston will be fortuante to even get out of the 1st round as they have struggled against New York and Philly during the season, two teams that are extremely hungry for post season success.

As for Danny Ainge, he went all in with the idea that Shaq would be healthy for the playoffs, but the decision has blown up. Perkins, while never being a dominant scorer, was the best low post defender in the East. It was just in 2009 that a Garnett-less Celtics squad beat Chicago in the 1st ROund and had a 3-2 series lead on Orlando before bowing out, which was a direct result of Perkins low post defense and rebounding on the Joakim Noah's and Dwight Howard's of the world. Now the trademark defense and team chemistry Boston has relied on is gone.

Let's hope Danny Ainge is not going Joe Dumars on us. Every move Dumars made for a time turned to gold, from acquiring the unknown Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse, getting rid of Rick Carlisle for Larry Brown, pulling off the Rasheed Wallace deal looked great. But their was also Darko, Chancey and host of other bad decisions that have led to the demise of Detroit Basketball. Ainge made the C's relevent again after losing out on the Oden and Durant sweepstakes, instead acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and draft day trades making the C's and instant contender and thus winning the title in 2008. Boston could be two injuries away from a 3-Peat, but is now light years away from Banner 18.

There will be some who point to Boston's run last year, but the reality is that the C's shut it down some in the regular season, nusing injuries to the Big 3 while Rondo became the best player on the team. When April rolled around, Boston was healthy and knew that it would have to win on the road and did so, winning twice in Cleveland and Orlando, once in LA and Miami. That is not the case this year as the Big 3 and Rondo are playing heavy minutes and not getting the W's, especially on back to back games. Rondo is not the same player since his best friend Perkins is gone and niether is Glenn Davis since his running partner Nate Robinson has departed. The C's get virtually nothing from the second unit. The chemistry is not there, sadly niether is the toughness. As a result, it will be a short post season for the C's this April/May.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mark Gottfried era begins at NC State

Former University of Alabama basketball coach Mark Gottfried was named as the head coach at NC State, two years after being fired at The Capstone and then moon lighting as a bitter ex-coach on ESPN and the SEC Network.

Gottfried's name had surfaced before with the Utah opening a few weeks ago until they went in a different direction in Salt Lake City. Now 3 weeks after firing Sidney Lowe, NCSU AD Debbie Yow has tagged Gottfried as her man to lead the Wolfpack through the rugged ACC.

Obviously, Gottfired's career at UA did not end well. I was a big supporter of his until the final years when he seemed lazy and blamed the programs problems on Ronald Steele's injury. Their were good, bad and ugly times under CMG, so let's examine them.

The Good:

Re-energized the program
the 2002 SEC Championship
5 consecutive NCAA Tournament Apperances
A near 100% graduation rate
The school's first ever # 1 ranking
2004 Elite 8
2 SEC West Titles
Played tough non-conference games home, away & at nuetral sites

When Gottfried took over for David Hobbs, the program was at a very low point. The youthful, Mobile product helped re-enegize the program as the team played hard in the first two years. A good decision of CMG was to build through the high school ranks bringing in players like Erwin Dudley, Rod Grizzard, Terrance Meade to help build his foundation. After being left out of the 2001 NCAA Tournament due to a weak non-conference schedule, the Tide scheduled up and won an SEC Title. Season Ticket sales reached an all time high prior to the 2007 season as Alabama began the season ranked in the top 5. Players graduated, were never in trouble with the law and geneally were good guys that the fans could be proud of. A good percentage of the players on the team were in-state high school stars, which brought some much needed pride into the program.

The Bad

Never developed players
Buried too many Freshman on the bench which resulted in transfers
His teams never played defense
Despite 5 NCAA appearances, only made it to the 2nd weekend once in 11 years
Never won an SEC Tournament
His teams were routinely blown out on the road
He never developed a bench
Ruined Ronald Steele's career
Mishandled Gerald Wallace
Badly outcoached by Jeff Lebo
Sweating out every selection Sunday

Gottfried had plenty of problems in T-Town. His teams were never mentally tough, although they were fairly talented. Defense was non-existent, as the Tide was never committed to stopping their opponents, which in turn led to numerous road blowouts. Only once and many say it was all due to Antoine Pettway's heroics, did CMG ever get out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournmaent. Twice as a higher seed, he was ripped apart by Kent St and UW Milwaukee, which led to Stan Heath and Bruce Pearl landing SEC coaching jobs. He rode Roanld Steele into the gorund playing him over 40 minutes a game and effectively ruining his career. Gerald Wallace never did anything while at Alabama, which was largely due to CMG playing him out of position. He never worked on developing a bench which led to his teams wearing down late in the year. Auburn was a nobody during the Tide's good runs, but CMG actully allowed Jeff Lebo to overtake him for a brief period. CMG's player never improved their skill level while at UA and in some cases seemed to regress. Players like Avery Jukes and Justin Tubbs tansferred out and the substitution patterns baffled even the causal observer.


The end of the Ronald Steele era
Lazy recruiting/coaching
Personal issues

For what seemed like 3 years, CMG blamed the program's problem on Ronald Steele's injury, which was just plain wrong. Instead of developing Mikhail Torrence who never got any playing time, CMG's final 3 years saw the program go for new heights to very low times. Fan support dwindled and CMG went Tommy Tubberville and became lazy in his recruiting. Things turned ugly due to personal issues and CMG was finally forced out. Even under Phillip Pearson, UA seemed to play harder then it did for Gottfried.


I was really a big fan of CMG when he started out. He did good things at UA, but it always seemed like we could have done more. Their was never any consistency in the program and things spiraled out of control. When it went bad, it went bad. There were definently good times, but one has to wonder what if Antoine Pettway didn't beat Southern Illinois at the buzzer in 2004 or Florida in 2002, just how long would have the Gottfried era lasted? Alabama easily could have never made that run to the Elite 8 or won an SEC Title. Some very talented squads barely qualified for the NCAA Tournament and 8-8 in the SEC was the norm.

What's going to happen at NC State? Seemed like a desperate move for an embattled AD and an ex-coach who was bitter about his dismissal at UA to the point that he went out of his way to criticize his ex-team despite the success they had in 2011. Do you really think that Gottfried can beat Krysweski, Williams, etc. in the basketball hotbed that is the ACC when he couldn't consistently beat Stansbury & Lebo in the SEC?

Hope it works out for ya'll in Raleigh, but I don't see it happening. Thank the Lord that we have Anthony Grant!