Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shaq vs Kobe IV: Wrestlemania Take a Step Back (Part II)

So, Shaq is old and fat (see Part I for details)

Kobe is becoming the posterchild for selfish play. When anyone scores a lot of points with very few assists, it is now called pulling a Kobe. I am sure everyone wouldn't mind as much if he didn't completely give up on defense. Kobe refuses to fight over screen, putting his big men in difficult positions. As a result, the Lakers interior defense is faced with challenging a driving guard and potentially fouling him or pulling the ball out of the net to pass to Kobe to dribble around and jack a shot. Sounds like a fun way to play the game doesn't it? All in all, the Lakers will go as far as the help defense around Kobe can take them. Phil Jackson is pulling one of the best scams in all of basketball. He has the team believing that Kobe taking a ridiculous number of shots and playing next to no defense is good basketball. Last I heard, it was still a team game. If Kobe can stay on fire and keep his percentage up like he is, the Lakers will probably make the playoffs in the depleted west. However, if they face anyone who actually plays basketball like it is a team sport, a.k.a. San Antonio or Dallas, Then expect them to get swept. All in all, the Lakers are not really very good, mainly because they play marginal defense thanks to Kobe

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Shaq vs Kobe IV: Wrestlemania Take a Step Back (Part I)

After weeks of media hyping the battle of basketball titans, we were finally graced with the giant showdown. Except, there was no showdown, and there never will be a showdown. The media is trying to ride this train as long as they can and try to invent a story by it, but Shaq and Kobe will never again play a meaningful game together.

What made Shaq unguardable wasn't just his size. He was fairly nimble and got to his spots quickly and made sharp moves when the basketball when he received the pass. Now, a few years and a half million Whoppers later, He has more size, but a lot less quickness. Shaq now is old, fat, and slow. He is late on defensive rotations, He is slow to go for rebounds. He doesn't bother to move his feet on defense opting for reaching and subsequent foul trouble. Strangely, his determination to get in foul trouble by playing lazy defense opens the door for Mourning, allowing the Heat to become a better team. Alonzo moves without the ball on both ends of the court and hustles (yes that is still a word Shaq). With Zo, the Heat play better defense and more fluid offense. Whenever Shaq gets the ball, everyone has to prepare for a rocket of a rebound or lose some teeth. Not since the days of Chris Dudley has there been so many shots from within 5 feet that missed rim. Shaq offensive game was based on athletic ability and size. Thanks to his eating and work habits, he has plenty of size, but nothing resembling athletic ability. He is an old player on a rapid freefall to retirement.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Mike Vanderjagt gets a Taste of Karma this Weekend

Karma. It's a funny and fickle thing. Be careful what you say, or what you do because it has a funny way of haunting you. Mike Vanderjagt, who was a mediocre kicker in 2002 with below 75% accuracy, had a breakout year in 2003. He went a stellar 37 for 37 on the season, never missing a kick. The colts were an offensive juggernaut, much like today and were cruising through the playoffs. Well, cruising until they met the Jets and got smashed 41-0. Afterwards, Vanderjagt in true karma inflicting fashion made the following statement on Canadian TV;

"Some guys have it and some guys don't. All week before the Jets game I'm like, '[No.] 18, we're going to handle it, me and you we're going to win this game.' And he's like, 'Yeah, OK.' And I'm like, 'Peyton, show some enthusiasm. You're the quarterback and we need to win this game.' I just don't see it from him."

Basically he shouldered the entire loss on Peyton Manning, and to a lesser extent Tony Dungy for not showing enough emotion and thus causing the team to perform so poorly.

Now, fast forward to 2005. Vanderjagt is still a good kicker making 23-25 on the season, and the Colts are once again a juggernaut. After a 13-0 start and locking up homefield throughout the playoffs, the colts play preseason ball and rest their starts and cruise into the playoffs. Their first game is against the Steelers, and on the whole, the Colts play subpar offensive football leading to 21-3 deficit. Amazingly, they manage to get to 21-18 on some miraculous events involving Jerome Bettis fumbling the ball as the Steelers were running out the clock.

This set the stage for the Colts to have an incredible comeback, all they need is a straight on 46 yard field goal from Vanderjagt and they go into overtime with all the momentum. This should be easy for a guy who is so good he can call out the coach and quarterback. The kick was so far right that it nearly went off camera form the opposing endzone. He missed it by at least 25 yards to the right.

So, Mike, here is your lesson from Karma: When things go wrong, shut up and work on it in the clubhouse. Mouthing will always cause you to get yours.

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Friday, January 13, 2006

The Big Basketball Game Last Night

Believe it or not, there was a basketball game played last night that didn't involve Kobe or Lebron. I can see where people might not have realized it since it wasn't nearly as hyped, but the teams were only the Detroit Pistons vs the San Antonio Spurs. Yes, the game no one heard about was only the preview to this year's NBA Championship Finals since both the Spurs and the Pistons are head and shoulders better than anyone else in their respective conferences.

As a Spurs fan, I am somewhat glad that this game happened under the radar, since it seems the Pistons completely outclassed SA in every aspect of the game. They shot better, rebounded better, defended better, hustled more... the list goes on and on. It was the definition of domination. They have learned that turning Duncan, Parker and Ginobili into jump shooter means reducing their effectiveness on the court tremendously. Parker and Ginobili both are most effective driving to the basket and attacking the defense resulting in layups and easy points. By playing off from he Spur's guards, they removed their best weapons and, thus, their ability to take over the game.

The type of defender who has always given TD the most trouble has been the quick, long types, which Rasheed fits into perfectly. Rasheed does an excellent job of not letting Duncan get to his favorite spots in positions to do his favorite moves. Maybe when Duncan was in his first few years when he remembered he still had a left hand attached to his body would he be harder to defend. As it is now, you know he is going with his right hand and with Detroit's off the ball help defense, Challenging his shots is much easier. Charley Rosen at FoxSports.com has a nice, if somewhat painful breakdown of the beatdown.

Luckily, the Spurs still have half a season to figure it out. They don't really start playing until after the rodeo roadtrip in February anyways.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

News Flash, Reggie Bush decides to turn pro

The subject says it all. In a stunning move totally expected by all of America, Reggie Bush has decided to capitalize on the fact that he will never in his life be worth more as a rookie entering the NFL. Also, all of America is anxiously waiting to hear the words "With the first pick in the 2006 draft, Houston takes Reggie Bush"

These words will mean the demise of any hopes of Houston actually improving next year. Reggie is good, don't count me wrong, but is he good enough to take the hand off, get hit 3 times before getting back to the line of scrimmage and then miraculously making a big play? No. Let's face it, the Texans have decent enough talent in the backfield to do better than 2W-14L which has earned them the first draft pick in this year's draft.

What the Texans need to do is dangle Reggie in front of a few teams and see who bites on offering them some help in the offensive line in exchange for a trade down in the draft. By doing this, Houston could dramatically improve their blocking, and that is key in having success offensively. Look at the Broncos, they have had amazing success running the ball with a platoon of guys carrying it. It doesn't matter who they hand the ball to, he is going gain yards on the ground. Is this because they just happen to have an incredibly talented group of running backs? Not really, Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, and Ron Dayne all averaged over 4 yards per carry this year ( feat which Dayne did for the first time in a 6 year career). They were able to achieve this success because Denver has a really talented offensive line.

The Texans will draft Reggie, and the fans will come to watch him perform his magic. But when it is all said and done, he will be a great player on a terrible team and no one will get to see what he is capable of. He will just be meat for the grinder as defenses continually get free passes by the Houston offensive line to punish anyone in the Houston backfield.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My first blog post

Well, here goes. My dive into the crazy fast paced world of posting my thoughts for everyone to see. After talking to a really good friend of mine known to the world as QuesoKid and seeing his blog, and his other blog I decided "why not" and here I am. I am a big time sports fan, so, naturally, that is what I am going to ramble about. I enjoy all major sports, and a few minor ones, with my favorite sport of course being NBA basketball. I also have a favorite team, the San Antonio Spurs. So, with delay, my late entry into the wacky world of blogging has begun.