Saturday, April 26, 2008

I like what I see

Ok. Ok. So maybe Jim Zorn is here to revamp the offense. We needed a receiver and we got three. Well, two wideouts and the best tight end in the draft if you ask me. Returning a healthy offensive line and adding threats to the offense, the Redskins could be vastly improved. I don't know, could be the fan in me.

Regardless, big shoutout to Kentwan Balmer, the No. 29 overall pick and the only Tar Heel to go in the first round. Only problem with that, is he'll play for the 49ers.

What I hope the Redskins are doing...

As a die-hard Redskins fan, the NFL draft isn't one of my favorite things to watch. I mean, I spend enough time during the season watching my team disappoint - no sense in wasting a perfectly good summer weekend. Just like this year, though, I can't help but watch and think that maybe, just maybe, we'll they'll do something right this time. And like every year, Washington comes into the draft with needs. Popular thought this time around is that we'll make a move for a possession wide receiver. Well, the 21st pick has come and gone and the Skins dealt it to the Falcons. The Falcons? What in the world could they have gotten out of that. I'm hoping that they're packaging a miracle - more picks to send to Cincinnati.

I mean, the Bengals are insane if they keep Chad Johnson and let him sit out the season. This guy is worth a ton to any team in the NFL and the Bengals could do a little better than, say, a fourth round pick. The Redskins put together what I thought was a solid offer for both sides. It would have sent this year's No. 21 overall pick and a third-round selection next year. The latter could have become a first-rounder depending on certain criteria. But that deal was rejected, so I find it hard to believe that Snyder is cooking up something better. I guess we'll see. We're at pick No. 30 and there still hasn't been a WR to leave the board. The Skins should come up early in the second round with another shot. Maybe they actually know what they're doing ...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ellington declares as well; Hansbrough to return

Official word from the North Carolina basketball program has guard Wayne Ellington testing the waters of the NBA Draft along with sophomore Ty Lawson. Neither will hire an agent, leaving hope to the Tar Heel faithful that they reunite in Chapel Hill for another run at the title. North Carolina fans still have plenty to be happy about with the news that national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough will return for his senior season.

Lawson declares; won't hire agent

That's what FOX sports is reporting as of an hour ago. According to the story, the University will issue a statement later today. I would not be surprised if the remainder of North Carolina's announcements are made public as well with the official break of the story...(even though it broke a week ago here).

I'm working, but I'll keep updates coming as frequently as possible.

Monday, April 21, 2008

UNC trio yet to make decision public

Sporting News Radio local station 99.9 The Fan reported yesterday that national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough has yet to decide whether he wants to declare himself eligible for the 2008 NBA draft. That's according to a conversation that a representative of the station had with Hansbrough's father.

A source within the team confirmed that sophomore guards Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington have made there decision, but failed to confirm what that decision was. However, other sources close to Ellington and Lawson have both of them bolting for the NBA. Anything new, you'll find it here.

OK, back to work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

UNC's class and the draft

For those of you concerned with my knowledge of the NBA draft and salaries, I invite you to read this. I am well aware of how the draft works. And I'm also aware of how negotiations work. Though the salaries aren't adjustable, a player like Lawson's draft value is. What I meant by the leverage argument is that there are multiple teams that are looking for an impact point guard. And this year, you should be able to still find one in the mid to late first round.

Let's just throw the New Jersey Nets out there for the sake of argument. The Nets have the 21st selection and are the last team that will offer up a million plus in guaranteed money for the next three years. But just because the salaries are fixed, doesn't mean that there is no bargaining taking place. The Nets may or may not want a point guard given that they have Devin Harris. Maybe they think that if they wait until next year, they can do better. But they also could be thinking that if they can grab Lawson, they better go ahead and act now. The fact that Lawson still holds NCAA eligibility over the heads of NBA teams makes them more likely to increase their interest, so they don't miss out on a good opportunity. The more teams that have the same type of interest in a player the more likely that player gets drafted higher, and even one pick higher will get him and increase in the neighborhood of $30K, $50K and $75K in the first three seasons, respectively. The higher you go, the more those numbers increase. Thus, the leverage attained by being able to go back to school can drive a prospects salary up, even though those salaries are fixed. For an illustration of how this works, think back to last year's draft and Roy Hibbert. Projected as a lottery pick prior to last season's draft, Hibbert decided to return to Georgetown. Now he's barely hanging on to the first round.

Sorry this didn't come yesterday. I was on the road.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Like it or not, Lawson's meeting is bad news of North Carolina fans

Man, you people got heated about yesterday's post, didn't you? I feel the need to make a couple of clarifications that I supposed most people don't realize. First, I understand the creed around here: In Roy We Trust. But let's be realistic people. If you think that no public statement means no decision, then you don't get it. Just because these guys haven't officially declared for the draft doesn't mean the decision hasn't been made. It's called leverage. To state the obvious, these guys are hardly lottery picks. So from a business standpoint, especially where agent hiring is concerned, holding onto the front of returning to college is a business move, period. When these guys are going through a decision as big as this one, the more options you have on paper, the more paper you'll generate.

Why would an agent take a potential client to Outback? The answer to that is surprisingly simple. Until a player officially signs with an agent, he can't accept anything from anybody and not expect to hear from the NCAA. Therefore, gettin' spotted eating caviar by candlelight is a no-no. A chocolate thunder from down under is much more feasible. And if he does slip, the leverage is gone.

How do I know this information when nobody else does? Believe me, PLENTY of people know more than they're allowed to say. The news business, for those of you who don't know, is all about finding out what they don't want to tell you. Decisions like these are announced at strategic times. It may be to take pressure off the athlete, the coach, the program ... any number of things. That's usually information that stays in-house and only becomes obvious upon announcement, when the pieces fall together and make a little more sense.

News outlets have to have concrete facts. And by concrete facts, I mean someone inside the program or in direct relation to the player that's spilling the beans. But as a reporter, if you can build relationships with those close to the program (like boosters), you can find the answer without having to go inside the program. You get someone with that access to fill you in. That's what I, and many others, have done. There are people that pay a lot of money to this program. A LOT of money. These people expect to know the ins and outs of their investment. Some are willing to share what they know. Others aren't.

And lastly, keep this in mind: Anyone remember seeing Raymond Felton rolling through campus in a new Jaguar shortly after the 2005 national title? No decision had been announced at that point either. As a matter of fact, Sean May had everyone believing that he could get at least some of that class back and even said he'd stay himself. But the truth remained. Those dudes, with the exception of May, were already gone. They were just developing their game plan.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington to declare for NBA draft...

Yep, that's right Tar Heel fans. Two-thirds of your worst nightmare has come true. I have very reliable sources that have told me that Wayne Ellington has already met with agents and made the decision and that Lawson has more or less left himself with no other choice. Now, I heard similar rumors about Lawson at this time last season, but last night Lawson was spotted at Outback in Durham meeting with an agent. I was told that they were discussing the draft and the number 21 was mentioned, presumably about the time the North Carolina point guard would be chosen. That sounds about right to me. And according to that source, Lawson's dad did not look happy. I'm sure North Carolina fans won't be to happy either as their situation at the point will be the topic of conversation from now until March.

UPDATE: Just to make some clarifications re: the original post and to help alleviate some jabs to my credibility.

According to my source, Lawson arrived at Outback around 9:45 p.m. and stayed until at least 10:15 p.m. He was seated at "table 1." Lawson at position 1, agent at position 2, father across table at position 3.

While seated, three kids sitting in the lounge with their father that got up upon seeing him and asked for his autograph.

So, he WAS NOT THERE DURING THE BANQUET. He was there after.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's been a few days...

So I gotta put something up here. First of all, I was right about Taylor King. I heard on the radio yesterday that the Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story. Bullshit. That was me. A week before they figured it out. Some thanks I get. Anyways, the real reason for this post hasn't anything to do with sports. As some of you may know, I post the link to my blog on Facebook and as my gmail status. I do so in hopes that it will increase traffic. Well, a few minutes ago, I notice that my friend Joie had done the same thing. And you know, the Golden Rule, do unto others ... blah blah blah, so I clicked. Boy was I pissed. I've had this blog since January and I've had 111 profile views and probably 100 of those were by me. Well, miss Lubbers already has like 243 and she's made four posts. Of course, her blog is cooler than mine ... and she's pretty much cooler than me, but still.

Anyways, I'm not tryin' to throw a pity party. To the contrary, I think you should check out her blog. I think that she is a great writer and possesses unparalleled originality. Refreshing.

CAUTION: There are pictures of caterpillars and the site has absolutely nothing to do with sports. (But it's cool anyway).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fantasy Basketball Update

Back on Jan. 20 (Why I will surge to fantasy basketball supremacy...) I explained to everyone, specifically my good friend Byrd that I would be atop the standings before you know it. Well, it took a while, but I am just two points from the top of the league and just as I said, Brian is poised for a free fall. He's been in first the better part of the season because he just plugs in all of is his players and lets it ride. Well, he's all out of games now, save the PG position, and doesn't have a chance of winning the league. He told me the the day before yesterday that he was too far ahead to be caught in any category. Yesterday, he dropped a point...narrowing his lead on me to just two. I'm roughly 80 points behind him in scoring. Plus, he's just 10 3-pointers above the current No. 3 seed, eight assists from losing a point and 10 steals ahead in that category. Those are all very small margins when you're a lame duck and the teams chasing you have remaining games. Now, I realize that none of my readers really care, but I just feel obligated to spell this out for our poor buddy Brian "Stephen A." Byrd. What a fitting name, considering that guy also talks out of his ass...haha.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What's in a name?

Below you will find a slideshow of some of sports' most unfortunately named souls. For this and other funny slideshows, like "The 10 Products Only Douchebags Buy", click here.

Houston, we have a problem.

And it's freakin' Roy Oswalt. This guy is killing me. Guy's given up eight runs in his first two starts and he's a perennial stud. Maybe it's a little to early to be in panic mode, but I've got a starting staff that consists of Carlos Zambrano, Oswalt, Pedro Martinez, Noah Lowry, Manny Parra and Zack Duke. I have a choke-hold on the league's closer situation, so I can undoubltedly land another stud, but a subpar season from Houston's ace would provide for a costly replacement. Concerned, I turned to the annals of If you're a baseball enthusiast and have never heard of this site - GO THERE! It has everything. The single most comprehensive statistical site on the Web. Anyway, a little research eased my fears slightly. Oswalt had a rough first two starts in 2005, the year he went on to finish 20-12 and the Astros went to the World Series. That said, that rotation featured Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and the trio all finished among the top five in the Cy Young voting. This season's rotation looks nothing like that one. I hope that doesn't mean bad things for Roy.

2008 NCAA National Title Game

Well, thankfully I never made a prediction on the final game. At least there was one thing I didn't get wrong. Honestly, I don't even know why I'm blogging about the game as I didn't see a second of it. Haven't even seen the highlights yet. Only heard updates over the radio en route to Chesapeake, Va. from Chapel Hill. That said, there are a few points I feel informed enough to touch on. Mainly the fact that Memphis couldn't hit its free throws down the stretch. After shooting something like 58 percent during the season as a team, they improved by nearly 20 percent during the NCAA tournament. Not real sure how a team gets hot from the line, but the Tigers did it. And more power to them.

Judging by the box score, it doesn't appear that Memphis forward Joey Dorsey was very effective. He had just two rebounds and fouled out after just 26 minutes. It also looks like the Tigers leaned a little to heavily on the 3-point shot, making just six of 22. From what I heard on the radio, they hit a couple of those late in the first half to keep things close at the break, so I would imagine that they went cold late.

There is one thing I can be sure of without watching a thing, though. Chris Douglas-Robers and Derrick Rose are outta here. And rightfully so. Douglas-Roberts was a Naismith Award finalist and Rose was the best point guard in the country.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Taylor King to Villanova?

Probably. At least that's what he told me on Friday night. He was asked often about his reasons for the move and did not speak negatively of Duke, the university he entered as a touted freshman sharp-shooter at the beginning of the season. He seemed to dance around the subject of why he left, saying he just needed a change, or something to that effect.

I did however, hear from a source close to the program that King had good reason for dodging the question. It seems his lifestyle was the biggest contributing factor to his departure, having drawn the ire of teammates like Kyle Singler, DeMarcus Nelson and others for his commitment to nightlife rather than to basketball. The source also told me that there were points during the season where Coach K would call King into the game and some of his teammates would tell their coach that they didn't want him in. With that sort of dissension, it's easy to see why King will be wearing a new uniform next season.


OK. I took a day to let it all sink in. No need for hasty posts about North Carolina's terrible performance against Kansas in the national semi-final on Saturday night in San Antonio.

With that in mind, I still can't say that I've ever seen the Tar Heels play so poorly in my entire life. Say what you want about cutting a 28-point lead to four, but that deficit would have been cut to no closer than 10 if Kansas could've thrown the ball into the ocean for the first part of the second half. As excited as I was during the rally, hindsight made me realize that a Kansas bucket at any point during that span would've effectively staved off the comeback. And really, that's what happened.

I know better, but North Carolina didn't really look like it cared throughout. Roy Williams looked as stunned as his players, Tyler Hansbrough wasn't on the floor and for the first time all season, the Tar Heels appeared tired, beaten at their own game. It was a sad sight to behold for all UNC fans. The 40-12 deficit they faced in the first half hurt, in some ways, as bad as the 8-20 disaster of 2001-02. There were no ifs, ands or buts to turn to. It was just awful, depressing and any other negative term you can think of. The only good news that could come from the loss is the potential of Hansbrough, Lawson and/or Ellington to return next season. Hansbrough is a possibility, the others are a long shot.

We all know the cliche. Ya can't win 'em all. But it sure would've been nice to have a shot.

I watched a good portion of the contest feeling a bit like Forrest Gump; dazed, confused and bewildered. So I find it fitting to borrow a phrase in closing ...

That's about all I got to say about that.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Washington Nationals

Ok, I know what you're thinking. You read the title and think to yourself: "What could possibly be about the Washington Nationals and worth reading at the same time?"

Well, the fact that the Nationals will finish the 2008 season with a better record than the Atlanta Braves is about the only thing I can think of. And it's about to happen. I was astounded at the number of ESPN experts, Peter Gammons among them, that think that the Braves are the team to beat in the N.L. East. Gammons even has Atlanta in the World Series! Now, I might be a bigger Peter Gammons fan than I am a baseball fan, and that says a lot. But Pete and I will have to agree to disagree on this one, big time.

Now, I know what you're thinking - "Dude, we're four games into the year. Chill, moron." That's true. I'm not saying that the Nats' lead in the division is gonna last much longer. But I am saying that I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if it does. The biggest hole in this argument is starting pitching, that's obvious. When your staff is headed by Odalis Perez, you might have some trouble. But it's not out of the ordinary for pitchers who have struggled in season's past to have a breakout year. Perez could easily be one of those guys. He has experience in the National League on some winning teams. So hey, there are worse places to start.

The other spots on the roster are vastly improved. Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns are more than capable of putting up better-than-average numbers in the NL. I would venture to argue that if Dukes and Milledge can play to their potential (an opportunity they have yet to be provided with until now) you could be looking at one of the better outfield tandems in the league. The infield is equally under the radar. Ryan Zimmerman is an all-star caliber third baseman and Christian Guzman, Ron Belliard and Nick Johnson/Dimitri Young round out a respectable supporting cast. Paul LoDuca and Johnny Estrada will likely each see time behind the plate, and that veteran leadership should provide help to the staff and in the clubhouse.

And I haven't even mentioned Nationals Park, the team's new $611 million facility.

If that doesn't boost the team morale, I don't suppose that anything will.

Remember, I'm not saying these guys are headed to the playoffs. I'm just saying they're gonna surprise a lot of people. Especially the Atlanta Braves.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

2008 Final Four

Well, my bracket is back to toilet paper status, but at least San Antonio will be interesting. There has never been a Final Four with all No. 1 seeds which is interesting, since that seems to be the point of the whole tournament, seeing the best teams compete for the title. Yeah, Davidson was a good story. Yeah, George Mason was cool a few years ago. But they aren't the best teams in college basketball. Two years ago, Florida won the title and lost six games in the SEC. Not the best team in basketball.

Anyway, that's not what the story is about. It's time for a bracket breakdown of the No. 1's.

We've got North Carolina and Kansas. We've got Memphis-UCLA. Here's the scary stat, one of those that should be obvious, but never is:

Combined record: 143-9!!!

This is the way it should be every year. These four have proven themselves as the top four all season long. The only reason we need the NCAA tournament is to fulfill our need to think that we can accurately guess the outcome of 63 games. All that said, I can at least get three games right, right? Honestly, I think predicting the outcome of this year's Final Four is equally as difficult as the entire bracket is. Any one of the teams involved could earn the crown.

UCLA (35-3, 16-2 PAC-10) vs. Memphis (37-1, 16-0 C-USA)
Saturday, April 5, 2008 - 6:07 EST

Memphis is athletic and hungry. UCLA is established and strong. I think the Tigers are going to be clawing from the jump. There is no other team in the country with the athleticism possessed by Memphis, not even North Carolina. It will be interesting to see how head coach John Calipari attempts to come at Kevin Love, which is the only element the Bruins have that the Tigers don't. Memphis has done a lot to prove that it's cake-walk of a conference schedule lends little to the suggestion that they aren't elite title contenders.

Memphis is poised to win this one convincingly for one reason: they can score. So much emphasis is placed upon defense, and rightfully so in many cases. But people are quick to forget that the object of the game is to score more points than the other team. If you're team has enough talent to do that, then you're gonna win - plain and simple. Memphis is one of two teams in the NCAA with that capability.

Bottom line: Memphis 75, UCLA 64

Kansas (35-3, 13-3 Big 12) vs. North Carolina (36-2, 14-2 ACC)

This is certainly the match-up with the most hype. The Roy Williams faces Kansas storyline is already getting worn out. To me, that's not that big of a deal. Sure the people are probably still pissed at him, but there is no one on that team that Williams recruited, so get over it.

This is, however, the game that I've been waiting for all season. I think that these are the best two teams in the country. They match-up very well, though I doubt Sasha Kaun will be of much worth sharing the paint with Tyler Hansbrough. All other elements provide for an exciting clash. Both teams can get out and run with it and can even slow down the pace and play a half-court game if necessary. Field goal percentage will be key, the way I see it, because the winner will need to knock down shots and make the most of its opportunities off turnovers and on the offensive glass to get the edge.

Bottom line: North Carolina 88, Kansas 85