Thriller!

April 10, 2009

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Last night’s Frozen Four Match-up between the Boston University Terriers and my school, The University of Vermont, was an absolute thriller.  An EPIC game.  The Hockey East Rivals met for the 4th time this season, and produced a wild 5-4 game in which we witnessed 4 lead changes, 2 late BU goals for the victory, and an absolute inspired effort by Vermont.

I was so excited to watch the Catamounts on the big stage.  Vermont Hockey is the state’s team.  Without a professional team, or a dominant College Basketball Team, Vermont Hockey represents us on the National scene.  And what a year it was in 2008 – 2009.  Consistently ranked in the Top 10 all year, Vermont beat a solid Yale team and then outlasted Air Force to arrive at its’ 1st Frozen Four since the St. Louis/Perrin/Thomas era of ’96.

By all means, Boston University was the better team, but in a 1-game playoff anything can happen.  I was expecting a low-scoring, neutral zone war by Vermont that would try to keep BU’s high scoring offense in check.  But I was dead wrong, in signs showing us that Vermont is becoming an elite power, they went toe-to-toe with the Terriers for the entire game.  And could of easily moved on to Saturday’s National Championship Game.

In the end, the Terriers powered past Vermont with a couple late goals, the winning goal by Colin Wilson who NHL scouts are drooling over.  Both teams left everything on the ice, made their coaches, fans, and alumni proud across the country, and left me wishing for another match-up.

Vermont is a step away, but being in the bright lights will only help Vermont attain that next step.  Looking forward to 2009-2010!

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The New Land of Point Guards?

March 23, 2009

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For years the Mecca of basketball, more specifically, Point Guards have come out of New York City.  Let’s go through the list; Bob Cousy, Tiny Archibald, Lenny Wilkens, Earl the Pearl, Kenny Anderson, Kenny Smith, Mark Jackson, Bessie Telfair….the list goes on and on.  For a while it seemed like the best Point Guard out of high school, out of college had that NYC swagga.  

I used to notice that Kenny Anderson woud get a basket, steal, dime when you most needed it.  Same with Mark Jackson and even Stephon Marbury.  Kind of like getting that last basket in pick-up, because winners keep the court.

While NYC will always be the Mecca of the Basketball World, a new land of Point Guards has risen from the Mid-West.  That land is Chicago.  Chi-town is more known for its’ sausages, Wrigley Field, and a bald-headed superstar.  Led by Isiah Thomas, Chicago has churned out lots of talented point guards.  Thomas, Mo Cheeks, Doc Rivers, Quinn Buckner, and Tim Hardaway are the founding fathers of the Windy City’s floor generals.

The new prototype 1 from Chicago is the thick, strong, powerful guard who is absolutely fearless.  Where does this mentality come from?  I think it comes from Michael Jordan.  While not a Point Guard, Jordan’s body type mirrors those of Chi-Towns PG’s.  And can you honestly say that any basketball player in Illinois, never mind the country, didn’t model themselves after Jordan?

Let’s look at the current Chi-Town PG’s. Dwayne Wade, definately a PG in college and a PG/facilitator in the Pros.  We all know his resume.  The #1 Pick in the 2008 NBA Draft was Derrick Rose, definite Rookie of the Year and the next great PG in the NBA. In the current Sweet 16 portion of the NCAA Tournament, Jeremy Pargo of Gonzaga and Sherron Collins of Kansas are both Chicago raised.

While I don’t know if we can say that New York City has been un-seated as land of the Point Guards, the Windy City puts up a great argument.


Brother Ali

March 4, 2009

A little soundtrack while you read!!


The True Definition of Swagger

February 17, 2009

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Wolves have swagger.  A wolf never sways away from the pack or team.  But there is always something about the one wolf.  One always stands out, you cant put your finger on why they stand out.  Something just draws you in.  They are the ones who take the big shot, the one who steps up and makes plays when no one else is looking.  The ones that do it for the pureness of competition and sport.   Its the alpha wolf getting the moose down, then allowing the rest of the pack to enjoy the spoils.

So who has swagger?  Does Chad Johnson have swagger?  No, Chad Johnson has a persona, a character.  You can’t count on Chad to make a big play, lay a huge block and get ready for the next play.  When Chad makes a play, it is as if Chad Johnson parted the Red Sea, cured Cancer, and won the Nobel Peace Prize all in 1 play.  A celebration of individuality is not swagger.

Tim Duncan has swagger. Tom Brady has swagger.  LeBron James has swagger.  Kobe Bryant has swagger. 

Now I am not naïve enough to list athletes who have swagger and say they don’t have celebrations or an entertainment factor in the game.  Times have changed, that part is a given.  Its about the players who consistently make everyone around them better, can be counted as having swagger.

Brett Farve has swagger.  Peyton Manning has swagger.  Dwayne Wade has swagger.  Blake Griffin has swagger.

Swagger is going in for the kill.  It is the athletes who see a tie game, a running down clock, a team on the ropes and lick their lips. 

Muhammed Ali has swagger.  Ray Lewis has swagger.  Michael Jordan has swagger.  Larry Bird has swagger.

Swagger is not putting yourself before the concept of the game or the team.  Being the highest paid, flashiest dressed, the most google hits on a search is not swagger.  Swagger is not someone you can count on to win, to be a champion.


Quarterbacks!

February 6, 2009

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Really what is going on in the NFL is one of the great duals, which part of the allure of sports was born on.  One of the things that I love about sports is the nostalgia of the game or the traditions.  I always love hearing about is league-wide, real professional rivalries.  Bird – Magic, Russell – Chamberlin, etc. 

In football right now, there is an amazing dual that will be well written in the future.

First, you have Tom Brady.  3 Super Bowls, 2 Super Bowl MVP’s, an MVP, Most Pass TD’s in a season, 16-0 Regular Season, Plays in New England, hated on, super model girlfriend, high fashion model.

Am I painting you a picture?

Next, Peyton Manning.  Son of an NFL player, 1st pick in the Draft, 1 Super Bowl, 2 MVP’s, feared by defenses.  Does corny, yet pretty funny commercials.  Aw Shucks kind of guy.  Lots of people love him.  Great Rivalry to Brady in Championship Games, with little success. 

Third, Ben Roethlisberger. A big guy that was drafted to the most successful franchise in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  From the Southeast Ohio/Pittsburgh area.  Rides and crashes motorcycles, loves the troops.  Hands the ball off, blue-collar town.  2 Super Bowls, consummate team player.

Finally, Eli Manning.  1 Super Bowl, 1 Super Bowl MVP.  Younger brother of Peyton and so son of an NFLer as well.  Plays in New York City, handles tons of criticism, upset of the Patriots, can’t beat his brother.

This is just a great time for this kind of defining players/rivalries of a generation of football.  Since 2000, these 4 quarterbacks have led their teams’ to Super Bowl Championships 7 times.  Unbelievable!

Instead of always comparing, lets just enjoy the action!


Kay Yow

January 24, 2009

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Kay Yow passed away late last night at the age of 66 after decades battling cancer.  Coach Yow is a winner, 700 victories, a Gold Medal, always having the Wolfpack in contention in the ACC and the NCAA tournament.  I have long been a fan of Coach Yow because of her class, determination, bravery, and being the consumate teacher.  She taught not only her team, but the sports world through her example.  College Basketball will sure miss her.

Enjoy the games today.


Athleticism and more Athleticism

January 12, 2009

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Ever notice how the sport of basketball on a professional and collegiate level is constantly changing?  Well if you haven’t, here is your education.  Basketball is a confined game, 94 ft. long court, 53 ft. wide, 10 ft. high baskets (a few ft. difference here or there). Those are concepts that will not change .  

What has changed throughout the years is the way you attack the game.  Coaches and players have constantly adapted their styles to be something that the current basketball world cannot guard or stop.  In just my lifetime, I can point out the changes.  First it was Michael Jordan, isolate a guard with his back to the basket and go from there.  Jordan would just toy with whatever kind of defense you put at him.  To counter this, along came the long, lanky 7-footer who runs like a gazelle.  “Potential” is a word often linked with these players.  Coaches became so obsessed with length, that basic basketball skills were forgotten.  While they were able to defend the 6’5″ guard in the post, offensively the game took a down turn.

The next progression was to Allen Iverson and the lightning quick guard who was fearless, tough, and a scorer.  Tough for those long guys to find their center of balance when AI is attacking the hoop.  So how to stop it?  This one came from the NBA’s office, College Basketball already had it, the zone!

So where did the sport go now?  To Europe of course!  Import the 6’9 – 7’1 smooth jump-shooting big man from the Euro Power Leagues and now the sport must adapt once again.  Dirk Nowitzki is the prime example of this, was a dominant man until the sport caught up once again and changed.

It morphed into what I think is the final staging of the evolution of basketball.  Athletes on top of athletes and attacking the goal with ferocity, spreading the floor, and SPEEEEEEEEEED.

Look at the Kansas Jayhawks and Boston Celtics, the reigning champions of both leagues.  What do they have in common?  They both play at a fast pace, the go-to man is the open man, hard defense, and use the dribble aggressively and with purpose.  This is the perfect remedy to all those quirks, let the athletes take over and enjoy.

So how could it be the end of the evolution of basketball?  I think it is the end of the modern evolution of basketball.  To keep evolving the dimensions of the court need to change.  The court either needs to get longer or wider.  Hockey had the problem and remedied it with the elimination of the two-line pass, goalies going behind the net.  All things that, in essence, made the rink bigger and improved the quality of play.

Eagles vs. Ravens.  Your pick?