Friday, March 25, 2005More Toast, Less Jam...
I start by pluggin myself with my column on Pat Summitt reconsidering her stance on coaching men. [The Ledger]
I think Summitt is in a position right now where a move could work out on both ends. She has carried the woman's game on her back for several years now and it's grown to a very stable spot. Back when I was growing up it was just Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion. Now it's Connecticut, LSU, Stanford, Duke, etc. etc., plus the national TV deal with ESPN doesn't hurt.
Also the Tennessee men's program really needs someone with some serious credentials to lead their program. I might be silly but I don't believe there's a blueprint to coaching, either you got it or you don't. For the Tennessee SID to ignore one of the members of coaching royalty to go after Bruce Pearl is a big mistake. At least give Summitt the first chance of refusal.
AP Weighs In: Bonds Yay, McGwire Nay
This doesn't surprise me in the least bit because skinny Bonds was basically a 450-450 player with three MVPs. He's a first ballot HoF'er anyway you look at it. [AP]
McGwire is a little bit less of an exact. He was a dynamic offensive player and although he was extremely one-dimensional, it was a hell of a dimension to have. His issue is moreso with his reputation than his numbers. Bonds isn't a very likable guy, that's no secret, he's not going to the Hall based on the media's outpouring of love for him.
McGwire had a better public reputation. The fans adored him and believed him. Between us, most media types weren't always crazy about the guy, he was also pretty surly, but in a different way. People like myself, who always thought he was juicing and somehow got a free pass because he "saved" baseball. The backlash against McGwire in some circles is more severe than Bonds because people really believed McGwire, no one really believed Bonds.
Personally I understand the anger against Bonds because he didn't need steroids to be great. He would've retired with around 550 home runs and 550 stolen bases. He'd still be Top 10 greatest ever.
I can understand someone not voting either in based on bitterness, most voters are damn near fossils anyway and long for the days of segregation and four teams in New York. I can understand voting in Bonds and not McGwire because Bonds is a much better player. I can't understand voting in McGwire and not Bonds because, like I said, skinny Barry alone was a better player than McGwire.
If I had a vote. I'd have to let both in. I can't stress this fact enough: STEROIDS WERE NOT ILLEGAL IN BASEBALL UNTIL 2003! Immoral? Absolutely. Even MLB honk Jayson Stark has an issue with it, but he knows his sport is more to blame for their lack of testing [ESPN]. But this was the juiced era and without any testing we can never know who did and who didn't. What about Cal Ripken? or Roger Clemens? or Wade Boggs? or Nolan Ryan? It easy to red flag one guy because he had the nerve to lift weights and ignore another because he didn't have that "look". Well I call bullshit, either we test everyone or we test no one. That's the only way we'll know for sure.
I tend to agree with Jeff Horrigan of the Boston Herald when he says:
"I begrudge the era that tolerated this more than I begrudge the man … You can't wipe out the '90s."
Here are the rest of the Quotes from Hall voters: [ESPN]
Gonzaga vs. Wake Forest
Two of the bigger stories in the first week were the losses by high seeds Gonzaga and Wake Forest. Both programs have only have one Sweet 16 appearance in the last five years and some are questioning why they were seeded the way they are.
I have no problems with Wake Forest's high seed. They play in the ACC, they also went to Illinois this year. They play a man's schedule night in and night out and if not for Chris Paul executing a poppy cock on Julius Hodge, they probably would've been a 1 seed. And again I have no problems with that.
Gonzaga, on the other hand, is on the outs with me. They did a great job improving their out of conference schedule this year. They beat Washington, Oklahoma St. and Georgia Tech. They also traveled to Illinois to take their beating. However after that it was the good life of San Diego, Pepperdine, Loyala-Marymount and Santa Clara. The West Coast conference is going to be a bit of a penalty for the Bulldogs.
Also after losing badly to Nevada last year and blowing a big lead this year, I have a feeling that Gonzaga is heading for no better than a 5 or 6 seed next year, regardless of record. As the old saying goes, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
I haven't talked about the NFL draft much but I will after the tournament and my friend Cesar and I even have a mock draft that we do through email. We usually try to get the first three rounds done or close to it.
Some of the stuff coming out in pre-draft workouts in interesting. Maurice Clarett is working out at his high school because Ohio State wouldn't let him in on Pro day [ESPN]. I don't know about Slo-Mo, that 40 time really killed any chances he'll have of being drafted in the first five rounds.
But I have a feeling that around the sixth round, the Denver Broncos will take a chance on him and he'll be the next running back to enjoy running behind the Broncos line. I tend to think someone will draft him because many coaches feel like Dennis Green, they know what he can do on the field with the football and they see the potential to be coached.
It doesn't hurt that it's a weaker year for running backs. After the top four of Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams and J.J. Arrington, there's a lot of position to manuever into that second echelon.
On the other hand, Mike Williams, who went through some of the same legal battles that Clarett did, seems to be en route to a Top 10 selection. One mock shows him at #7. [Wash. Post]. Personally I don't think there's any guarantee that he won't getting taken at #4.
Monday, March 21, 2005Morning Toast Returns: The Bracket Edition
So I'll break this into two parts, the first being the tournament (yeah, as if there's anything else).
-- There are upsets in the general sense, like UW-Milwaukee defeating Alabama and Boston College and then there's the true upset of Bucknell beating Kansas. Chew on this for a second, Bucknell didn't start giving scholarships away until a couple of years ago. So basically you've got a team with 50%+ non-scholarship players beating...Kansas, the school that Wilt went to.
Bucknell also came from the Patriots League, which was a perfect 0-fer in the tournament and...they only had FIVE scholarship players. They had to rent a pep band from Northern Iowa.
So my list of biggest tournament upsets:
- Weber State over North Carolina (I believe this was 1998 or 1999), either way Harold "The Show" Arceneaux single-handedly dumps a team that hadn't lost in the first round in 20 years.
- Richmond over Syracuse (1991), granted Richmond had the reputation of being a giant killer, but still the Syracuse team with Sherman Douglas and Billy Owens was pretty good.
- Princeton over UCLA (1996), most people thought Princeton would eventually get there but against the defending champions?
- Coppin St. over South Carolina (1997), another 15 over 2 matchup. South Carolina was grossly overrated but Coppin St. wasn't even on the radar.
- Bucknell over Kansas (2005), it jumps in my top five when I think that the Kansas team had players from its Final Four and Elite Eight squad on there. Just a remarkable achievement.
-- Did anyone have Florida over Villanova in the second round? It's become very clear that Billy Donovan builds his team strictly for the regular season. Temple, Michigan St., Creighton, Manhattan and now Villanova all play some sort of matchup zone that totally frustrates the process of Billyball.
-- My Final Four picks: Syracuse (gone), UConn (gone), Wake Forest (gone). So let's go Illini!
-- Louisville was a No. 4 seed, deal with it. Yes it was terrible, yes it was vastly unfair but how much does it really matter? Everyone has to beat the same teams to win the title eventually. Once we get to this stage it really doesn't matter.
-- Mike Gansey's OT performance Saturday might have surpassed Jeff Frier's (Loyola Marymount) shooting exhibition against Michigan in 1990 for the most dynamic offensive performance I've seen.
-- Oklahoma St.-Arizona and Washington-Louisville will be must-see TV this week.
-- Now a revised ROT (rest of tournament) predictions:
Elite Eight: Illinois, Oklahoma St., Louisville, W. Virginia, UNC, N.C. State, Duke, Utah.
Final Four: Illinois, Louisville, UNC, Utah.
Last Two: Louisville, UNC.
Winner: Louisville. Sorry I just can't go for Roy Williams. He'll screw up, he always does.