Tuesday, April 29, 2008

DOH-mer Of The Week- Charlie Weis

My DOH-mer normally reflects on a person or group from the week passed. But this week, I couldn’t help myself and needed to jump to real time. So essentially, some people will get a pass. The Phoenix Suns, and coach Mike D'Antoni, you get a pass. Popovich has put on a coaching clinic in your series with the Spurs, and by the time game 3 rolled around, D'Antoni “accidently” discovered that Boris Diaw would create mismatches on the floor. Let’s thank the ailing Grant Hill for enabling D'Antoni to see something that weeks of tape should have revealed. The Washington Wizards, you get a pass. You may be up 4-0 in the trash talk category, but your team is down 3-1 on the hardwood. Actions speak louder than words. Hmm.

They all get a pass, as I take you to one of my favorite places, Indiana, and the University of Notre Dame. Finally, my DOH-mer is actually a “Domer”. Charlie Weis receives his first, and this certainly won’t be his last, as I foresee a future of idiotic statements flowing from his lips.

Addressing the Notre Dame Club in Gettysburg, Weis spoke of the direction of his team and outlook for the future. When the discussion came to wins and losses, Weis’ comment was as follows:

“I could get hoodlums and thugs and win tomorrow. I won’t do it that way”.

In January, he threw his team under the bus, saying they just don’t comprehend what is being taught to them. Now, the latest comment says several things. You’re either telling your team they need a thug or telling them they can’t beat the thugs. Either way, both are wrong.

Notre Dame has never changed their recruiting process, yet other Notre Dame teams managed to win. They managed to win without thugs. They managed to haul in 12 national championships, without thugs. The thugless team he inherited from Ty Willingham was in National Championship contention in 2006. One year later, they finish with just 3 wins. Was it Brady Quinn or Jeff Samardzija that was the thug?

In their 3 win season, The Irish also lost to two service academies. Navy and Air Force have some of the more disciplined athletes in the nation. Ironically, Weis’ statement brings back memories of an Air Force coach saying they can’t win because they have slow White guys. And of course, BYU responded by saying “our slow White guys are better than yours”.

Let’s also take into consideration that Stanford has the same recruiting criteria as Notre Dame. The 42 point underdog Cardinal, with a coach making a hell of a lot less than Charlie Weis, managed to upset the top ranked USC Trojans. Weis’ Irish were shutout by the Trojans, even though they possess more five star players than Stanford could ever dream of, and have the nation’s top QB recruit.

And finally, to say USC, LSU, Texas, Florida, Ohio State, etc are winning with thugs is just plain ignorant. It’s ignorant to take a few bad apples and allow them to reflect the entire make up of a team. It’s ridiculous to say you’re losses are a result of having disciplined an honorable players, when the Mormon School, BYU, is projected to be next year’s BCS crasher. Florida State and Miami were given titles of “Thug U”, but in the ACC, it was the only other Division I-A Catholic school in the nation to field a football team, the Boston College Eagles, that damn near won the conference in 2007.

The problem in Notre Dame isn’t the players. It’s that DOH-mer of a coach they hired. You can’t hide their tradition and achievements, so you can't give bullsh*t reasons for your failures. In 2007, the Irish lost to some opponents that had better rosters. But in some of those losses, where the Irish were far superior on paper, Weis was simply outcoached. That’s something he’ll never admit, so he’ll just continue to shift the blame, with every opportunity he receives.

Eyes On A Foe: UCLA Loses QB Cowen For '08 Season

Let's just face it. UCLA is cursed when it comes to quarterbacks. It was a victory, when they landed one of the nation's top QB recruits in Ben Olsen. But unfortunately, Olsen has never been on the field long enough to live up to the hype. He and Patrick Cowen have been the interchangeable pieces to the Bruin QB position, with the healthy man receiving the start.

The Bruins entered the spring with both signal callers fresh and healthy. Cowen battled and was named the starting QB for the upcoming fall, and Olsen was again pushed back and placed in a "bust" position. But it only took one week of preparing for future ass splinters, before Olsen found himself back in the starting position, without having to do anything at all to secure it. His only requirement? Stay healthy?

Patrick Cowen is lost for the 2008 season, after tearing his ACL in non contact practice drills. This leaves the Bruins with the also fragile Ben Olsen to open a season where they'll see Tennessee in the second game. What are the odds that he'll survive that game? I'll give him 3 quarters, before limping off and passing the torch to an inexperienced player.

Injuries riddled the Bruins QB position last year, costing them a win against a lowly Notre Dame team in a "gimme" game. But hey, using a wide receiver at QB, they nearly beat Arizona State. With the new coaching dream team in place, people wondered if UCLA should be considered a threat to the Trojans. Now that spring is over and done, I'd have to confidently say "hell no".

Byrd Released From Rams' Coop

The Saint Louis Rams released former Trojan tight end Dominique Byrd. Bird struggled to get on the field in St. Louis, and made more headlines with off field issues. Byrd currently has a case pending for a bar incident where he struck a man in the face with a broken bottle. He also has a DUI arrest, which would also warrant an NFL suspension. I wouldn't expect Byrd to be seen on an NFL field again. At this point, everything spells out the end of a very short NFL career.

Monday, April 28, 2008

NFL Draft: Trojans On Parade

USC presented 15 drafted eligible players to NFL GMs, and 10 were selected, the most of any school in the 2008 draft. Of the 10 players selected, 7 went on the first day, with 4 selected in the first round. The new figures increase the Trojan dominance in the NFL draft.

The New Orleans Saints made Sedrick Ellis their first selection with the 7th overall pick. He was followed by Keith Rivers, who Cincinnati picked with selection 9. The Atlanta Falcons traded up to the 21 spot to grab Sam Baker, and the Seattle Seahawks chose Lawrence Jackson with the 28th overall pick. Round two showed Fred Davis going to the Washington Redskins and their new west coast offense. Chilo Rachal travels north to bolster the 49ers offensive line, and Terrell Thomas joins former teammate Steve Smith on the world champion New York Giants.

Two SC stars were selected by a former Trojan. Jack Del Rio added Thomas Williams and Chauncey Washington to the Jaguars roster. People may wonder why top talent continues to march to Southern California, but Williams' selection, while playing only a back up role, is a clear indication. There are starting linebackers from across the country that never received a phone call. If you want to play in the NFL, then I suggest you increase your chances by attending USC.

John David Booty is now a Minnesota Viking, going in the 5th round of the draft. Booty is in a position to possibly challenge the starting Tavaris Jackson, if the Viking offense shows no improvement in the passing game. The often penalized Drew Radovich was snubbed in the draft selection, but quickly picked up a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings.

The 2008 totals now give the Trojans 440 players drafted, inching them even closer to Notre Dame's all time leading 467. The 4 first round selections add to their lead in the category with 71.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

DOH-mer Of The Week- Rick Neuheisel

From the beginning, the UCLA postseason has been odd. The post Karl Dorrell era kicked off with the school interviewing 3 men for the coaching vacancy (Rick Neuheisel, Norm Chow, and Dwayne Walker), and somehow landing all 3 men on staff. They’ve put together their own “dream team” of coaches, with Chow being one of the great offensive minds in the game, Walker being a pupil of Pete Carroll across town and a respected defensive coordinator, and Rick Neuheisel already proving he could take both bottom feeding Washington and Colorado to new heights.

With the coaching staff set, the Bruins set out to start anew, and put the embarrassment of the 2007 football season behind them. But somehow, the UCLA football program managed to pull off a rarity, by embarrassing themselves, as a unit, in the postseason. As a recent hire at UCLA, Neuheisel has yet to be in a position to lose a game, but last week he somehow managed to lose his team.

Many made the trek to Westwood, on a beautiful Spring day, to watch the Bruins practice. Some were invited guests, which included parents, potential recruits, and high school coaches. As everyone settled in and watched the team stretch, before beginning their workouts, the Bruins rose to their feet and started running…kept running…through the gates…and never came back. I wonder how long people waited, before realizing the football players, and not the coaching staff, delivered a message that practice was over?

The Bruins fulfilled a tradition, known as “over the wall”, and left the new dream team staff to face the humiliation, and steam with anger. You may ask how I can get a DOHmer out of tradition, but it's actually pretty easy. This week’s DOHmer is head coach Rick Neuheisel. And it's not for having his team abandon him in front of invited guests, but for his later comments.

Rick was furious and said the act by his players was totally unexpected. Attempting to save face, he also said he had no clue of the tradition. In other words, Ricky flat out lied. Take a quick peep at the photograph below.

That’s a picture of former UCLA quarterback, and Rose Bowl MVP, Rick Neuheisel, when he was a player at UCLA. As a player, Rick took part in the “over the wall” tradition, so how could he not know about it? Neuheisel’s former coach at UCLA, Terry Donahue, pointed out that Rick was often the “instigator” for the over the wall ditch party. How does a former UCLA QB hide on a UCLA campus? It just doesn't happen. This was one of those times where Rick needed Norm to take the questions from the media, since he never attended or coached UCLA before this year, and would genuinely be "shocked". But instead, Neuheisel sat there as a current coach, former player, and 1980s practice "wall climber", claiming to not know of the tradition.

How was former coach Karl Dorrell not embarrassed by the stunt, but the new coaching staff is? Dorrell, who was also a player for the Bruins, knew about the tradition, and would actually help plan it. Dorrell, knew which day “not” to invite guests, and which day was going to look like a practice, but become a “no practice”. Dorrell helped a long tradition continue, without making a jackass of himself and the program.

As one guest put it, “Now we know why they play in the Lays potato chip bowl every year”. Another guest stated that the act would never fly at Fresno state, where he played college ball. Their actions certainly wouldn’t sit well across town with Pete Carroll, with Trojans admitting that if they ran away from the field, those responsible for the brainstorm would never see the turf again.

What I found most shocking was the fact that the entire team was able to sprint the field and disappear through the gates. The defense may get a pass, but anyone that saw the Bruins play in 2007 would know the offensive unit usually stalls at the 20 yard line. Was it all worth it? Who knows? But I’ll take any opportunity to laugh at the powder blue, and even reward them with a prize. Way to go…DOHmers!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Manuel Wright Becomes Part Of A Growing Trend

Former Trojan Manuel Wright was recently released by the New York Giants. Wright has struggled with weigh issues since he's appeared in the NFL. When Wright chose to come home for a birthday party, instead of attending the Giants voluntary workout, he found himself quickly in the unemployment line.

Work ethic is a reoccuring topic, when it comes to former men of Troy. Weight issues have caused former first round draft pick Mike Williams to be passed around the league. Lendale white struggled with his weight in his rookie season. And now we have Manuel Wright, who just couldn't seem to get it together. It's hard to believe that USC's weight training program is greater than any offered in the NFL, but somehow those players managed to remain focused while in college. I guess the key to it all is the word "voluntary", and the lazy man will always show up out of shape.

Scouts questioned the appearance of Sedrick Ellis and his new hanging flab at the NFL combine. He was in better shape for his spectacular Senior Bowl performance, and he was just a couple weeks removed from the USC football program. Hopefully Sedrick will be attentive to the consequences of Mike Williams and Manuel Wright, and see how much better Lendale's performance was, once he got fit in Tennessee.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Let's Trade Whiney Ass Chad to the Dolphins

Welcome another member to the millionaire spoiled brat club. It seems like every year we get another one of these mouthy “holier than thou” players that want to bitch and complain about contracts and teams, and Chad Johnson is our 2008 version.

Chad is griping about his contract, while also using the “Bengals not building a contender” as a smokescreen. He wants to be at the top of the pay scale for NFL wide receivers, and he’s not. He wants to blame the Bengals for that, and he can’t. If Chad thinks he has a bad contract, then why the hell did he sign it? If Chad felt he would always perform like a top receiver and should be paid accordingly, then why not have the incentives included in the current contract, before pulling out the pen and inking “ocho-cinco” on the dotted line? Why blame the Bengals for something he agreed to? Why commit to being a future member of a team, if it comes with the condition of winning? Where in that contract (that he signed) does it say “…but, if the Bengals fail to make the playoffs, I need more money or a new team?”

I think the Bengals should give Chad Johnson what he wants, and it’s not the money. Pack his bags and ship him off. Let’s shut him up, and show him that success for an NFL wide receiver doesn’t come alone. Show him that a quarterback, scheme, and other role players are equally important to his individual success. Let’s trade him to the Dolphins.

Parcells doesn’t want the No. 1 pick, and Chad doesn’t want the Bengals. It’s a match made in heaven. Let the Bengals move on, and force Chad to have one of those “Randy Moss Oakland Raiders experiences”. Let’s shut him up, and watch him fade in a system without Carson Palmer, and without Houshmandzadeh on the other side. Let's put him where Wes Welker and Chris Chambers were, before they joined new systems and offensive attacks. Let’s trade whiney a$$ Chad to the Dlophins.

DOH-mer OF The Week- David Stern

One thing that really irks me is contradiction. It’s one thing to say or do something with a span between the contradicting acts, but when the acts are simultaneous, there is no escaping the DOHmer tag. In the past week, the NBA has hit me with headlines about a proposal, while also feeding me images that are a direct opposite of their plans. While seeing the images, and remembering their words, I couldn’t make any sense of it. Let’s see if you can.

David Stern is one of the best commissioners in all sports. Often, what he says is sensible. I have no problem with his dress code or length of player suspensions for violating rules. The problem I have is his new proposal to raise the mandatory age limit for players entering the NBA from 19 to 20 years old. He may have an issue with maturity, and attempt to halt the influx of high school players making a direct jump, but seriously, if that’s the case, stop rolling tape.

The proposal was dropped on the public at a very bad time. Here you are trying to stop youngsters from leaping, while at the same time advertising kids that leaped. That’s right, the announcement came with the NBA season winding down, and playoff commercials beginning. You watch those commercials, and you’ll see several stars leading their teams into the postseason. And if you take a good look, many of them entered the NBA before their 20th birthday.

Here, allow me to shine some light on it:

Leapers straight from High School

Celtics- Kevin Garnett
Magic- Dwight Howard
Cavs- LeBron James
Lakers- Kobe Bryant
Rockets- Tracy McGrady
Suns- Amare Stoudemire

One year college experience

Raptors- Chris Bosh
Nuggets- Carmelo Anthony

It should also be noted that foreign born, Tony Parker, turned down scholarship offers from both UCLA and Georgia Tech, and entered the NBA as a 19 year old, after playing professionally in France since age 17. Parker was the 2007 NBA Finals MVP.

Some of the same listed youth made up half the starting line up for the NBA All-Star Game. Dwight Howard is your NBA slam dunk champion. Some of them will go on to represent the United States in the Olympic games. These faces are the marketing tools being used to sell the NBA, while also representing what Stern seeks to disallow in the league. Does it make any sense?

I’m not sure what the NBA's issue is with young players entering early . Sure, you get some flops, like a Sebastian Telfair, but are you seriously going to tell me no 20 year olds have ever entered the league and flopped? Is it really a question of maturity? Ron Artest played 2 years of college, and Dennis Rodman played 4. They both represent two of the most immature players I’ve ever seen take steps on the hardwood.

As much as I like David Stern, this week he is a DOHmer, for his clear contradiction in proposed player restrictions and marketing. So let’s all enjoy the playoffs, and enjoy the current stars, and hope we don’t get any more like them, until they are at least 20 years of age.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Joe McKnight is academically ineligible

Uh oh! Running back sensation, Joe McKnight, can't play. Well, he can eventually play again, but not anymore this spring. When McKnight dropped a class last week, his services were rendered "unavailable", as listed as academically ineligible. Once McKnight gets the academics in order, he can rejoin the team in the fall.

Should there be cause for concern? Well, yes and no. Yes, because anytime a player struggles academically during the offseason, you would think those struggles only get worst, when traveling, games and practices are tossed into the mix for the regular season. Chauncey Washington is a player that struggled with Academics. And as you can see, the bulk of his Trojan career was spent off the field.

Screw LeBron, The NBA Needs This...

The NBA youth movement has been in effect for several years now. Between James, Wade, Anthony, Paul, and several others, there’s no shortage of headlines for the “next” league poster boy. Now we’re approaching the playoffs, and networks begin to increase the hype surrounding these young players, with no real hype about their teams. It’s a marketing program that again will fail, because young stars in championship games have done nothing to increase their ratings.

The NBA doesn’t need a single face to spring a boost in ratings. It needs teams and history. What they need now, more than ever, is the Celtics and the Lakers. I’m not a fan of the either of those teams, and actually spent a lifetime hating both, but this isn’t about me. It’s about an association that has declined over the years and can’t seem to pick themselves up. Screw the Cavs, Hornets, Pistons, and Suns. To hell, with the Spurs, Mavs, Wizards, and Raptors. Give me Hollywood and Beantown. Give me something worth watching for an entire series. Give me what the NBA used to be.

Feeling disrespected yet? Are you ready to tell me to get the F*ck out of here? Where is the love for your team? It’s not about any lack of love for anyone’s favorites, and is more about a love for the game. It’s about memories of Celtic/Lakers clashes in the 80s, with each showing up battle tested from their conference playoffs. It’s about the old Chi-Town fighting bad boys, before meeting Ewing’s Knicks. It’s about Barkley’s Suns engaged with Olajuwon’s Rockets or Payton’s Sonics. It’s about the past, and what the NBA has moved so far away from.

The NBA waited for LeBron to reach the finals, and last year they got their wish. It turned out to be a “thanks for nothing”, as the Cavs were swept in 4 games. The Cavs became victims to one of the NBA’s most winningest teams of the past decade, but unfortunately, they are also one of the most boring. San Antonio wins championships in June, and by October, people are scratching their heads, trying to remember who the last champion was. Many of those same people can quickly rattle off numerous championship years for the Lakers and Celts.

In Tim Duncan, the Spurs also possess one of the most dominant players in the history of the NBA, and a sure first ballot hall of famer. But again, Tim Duncan is boring. Do you think that’s just my opinion? This is a list of the top selling NBA jerseys as of January 2008:

Top 15 Jerseys:

1. Kevin Garnett
2. Kobe Bryant
3. Allen Iverson
4. LeBron James
5. Steve Nash
6. Dwyane Wade
7. Gilbert Arenas
8. Dirk Nowitzki
9. Stephon Marbury
10. Carmelo Anthony
11. Kevin Durant
12. Paul Pierce
13. Tracy McGrady
14. Dwight Howard
15. Chris Paul

Duncan, the perennial all star, doesn’t appear on the list. Twelve of the 15 players have never won a championship. 10 have never appeared in a championship game. I’m not the only one viewing Duncan and the Spurs as not being “eye popping”. Through the sale of merchandise, America has spoken.

The Western conference playoffs will be exciting and intense. But unless the Lakers advance to the finals to meet Boston, the championship series will bring a severe drop off. Any matchup in the NBA finals, other than L.A and Boston, will not be as intriguing as playoff matchups in the wild, wild, west. The objective is to continue to peak as the playoffs move forward, before reaching that climactic ending, which is the Championship round. If the bulk of the excitement is reached before the conclusion, we have the NBA version of premature ejaculation. They still have a job to complete, but viewers were already done, before climbing into bed with any champion.

It also doesn’t help to have the Eastern Conference Finals aired on TNT. Hell, we didn’t even have cable in the ‘hood. Something just isn’t right, when the scheduling starts with “Saved by the bell”, and continues to “Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals”, and followed by “Walker, Texas Ranger”.

But regardless, I’ll be watching, and rooting for Boston and L.A. Let’s go retro in 2008. It’s an NBA throwback series, and you’ve gotta love it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Special Order for '08: No Mayo

It would have been more shocking to hear an announcement that O.J Mayo would return for his sophmore year at USC, but as expected, the talented freshman is packing his bags and moving on to the league. This just adds further proof that we shouldn't bank on the words of a kid proclaiming his love for a program and school, as Mayo did, while earlier claiming he would return. On the spot interviews about a player's future are never reliable, because the possibilities and potential dollar amounts have yet to be evaluated.

I'm not saying Mayo was a liar. I'm saying he may have that love for Southern Cal, and honestly wanted or expected to return. But where basketball is a game for many of us, it's a business for someone possessing O.J's talent. The Trojans will now go from Big star O.J Mayo in 2007 to Lil Romeo in 2008. I'm not sure if I should be afraid of USC falling back to years of futility or be excited about the chances to build on success. It's hard when players jump so quickly, so you never know what to expect.

We can look at this a couple of ways. USC just lost one of the greatest talents to wear their basketball uniform, and wonder how they'll replace that 20 points per game, the assists, steals, etc. Or we can think back 2 years, and consider that the Trojans made a deeper run in the tournament before O.J. arrived. But of course, a key member from that run, Nick Young, also jumped. But still, I feel confident that Tim Floyd will allow the Men of Troy to remain competitive. But if anyone is expecting a Pac 10 championship or final four run next season, I would say that's a desperate reach.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

DOH-mer Of The Week- The PSU Bookworm

The choice couldn’t be more obvious for this week’s DOHmer, though UCLA’s Ben Howland (The Marv Levi of college basketball) came close. But the Bruins’ three time loser narrowly escaped the ball handling, sharp shooting, library masturbating point guard from Penn State. Who the hell has heard of Stanley Pringle, until now? Imagine his parents, waiting patiently for their son to make sports headlines, and then BAM...There he is! Of course, mom would say “they must be mistaken”, while dad let’s loose that “atta boy”! But either way, the nation has formally been introduced to their dear son.

Last week,as I read the strange article about Penn State’s handyman, I thought to myself, “Why can’t this guy get laid?” All the members of my team got laid. Hell, friends of the team got “laid by association”. But there’s also that understanding of fetishes, and his act was a result of want, and not of necessity. Everyone knows sex in public places is always more stimulating. Don’t we? So I would gather sex with self, in a public environment, must be the ultimate masturbation experience. Maybe I should try it. And then again…maybe not. I’ve also read that hanging yourself, right at that moment, leads to the ultimate orgasm. And as usual, my mind wonders how anyone would know this, when dead men tell no tales.

Anyway, back to Pringle. I concluded that he was fulfilling a fetish, but more questions arise. You’re sitting in a library, talking to a girl in front of you, and masturbating. What was the open book on the desk? National Geographic? Also, the library can't possibly be the best place to do such a thing, because it's too obvious. People don't look that happy when they're reading.

Then there’s the report of the second woman giving the same description of Pringle, as a masturbating male that followed her to a stairwell. If you’re masturbating, and you’re mobile, you obviously don’t give a f*ck! I think people that don't give a f*ck pose a potential for danger. Don't you? That part is a little scary, when you consider that he's co-existing on a college campus with females. That is, IF he also represents the second sexual deviant in the stairwell. A quick library jerk may be harmless...sorta. But following victims is dangerous and concerning, at least in my eyes.

In the end, after a thorough interrogation (hopefully handcuffed), no formal charges were filed, and Pringle can go back to his role as a nobody on the Penn State basketball team. Well, a “nobody” at Penn State, but a “somebody” here, because he’s my DOHmer.

Also, seeing this former Wolverine also receiving indecency headlines, makes me believe I should have attended a Big 10 school, because the women must be scorching hot.

The Lesson For Memphis: Nothing Is Free

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the images of the 2008 NCAA Basketball Championship gave me enough of them to stock an entire library. Sure, there will be those common descriptions, such as determination, confidence, winner and loser. But as I watched the game wind down, there were three words, when placed together, looming larger than life. Those three words are “nothing is free”.

In sport, as in life, nothing is given to you. You can’t just reach for the prize, you must also take steps closer to grasp it. No one will hand it to you or allow you a pass. You can put in weeks, months, and even years of hard work, but no one is going to cross the finish line for you. The Kansas Jayhawks stayed true to their mission, completing a dream season and claiming the title of college basketball champions. But their opponent, for whatever reason, expected a little help along the way, and didn’t receive any.

The Memphis Tigers had the look of a champion. Their 38 wins marked the most by a program in NCAA history. If you eliminate less than a minute from their entire season (the closing seconds of regulation against both Kansas and Tennessee), the Tigers are undefeated. But despite their season accomplishments, they left the Alamodome on Monday night without a championship. They were 20 seconds away from moving freely to the podium to accept their congratulations, but again….nothing is free.

Kansas crossed the finish line, making their run from beginning to end. They did all that was needed, without expecting any handouts. When backed into a corner, faced with playing catch up, and the clock becoming the enemy, the Jayhawks delivered a blow, striking Achilles in the heel. Memphis’ weakness was always their struggles from the charity stripe (59% season percentage), and their title game opponents put them there, daring the Tigers to take the crown, and refusing to go without effort. Memphis missed 4 of 5 free throws in the final 20 seconds of regulation. One more make and one less miss would have completed the season goal, leaving the Chalmers 3-point basket with 2 seconds remaining to only have relevance in the box score, and none in the trophy presentation.

In a span of 20 seconds, a bench that was anticipating ladder climbing and net cutting, found themselves deadlocked on the scoreboard, before eventually getting worked in overtime and sent home. Of all things, it’s the inability to convert a “free” throw that transformed celebration to sadness. If you can’t depend on yourselves, who can you depend on? You pin your hopes on Kansas surrendering and allowing the clock to run out? You become dependent on wishes and prayers that a shot will be flung wide of the basket, just as the horn sounds? Or maybe you become so dependent on thoughts of your squad running out to big leads, so late game bricks from the line only effect the spread, without affecting the outcome? There were 63 other teams dependent on thoughts, hopes, and wishes, and now Memphis can join them on the loser’s bench.

Kansas took steps forward, and they reach no more. Meanwhile, Memphis is stuck behind the line, only thinking of what could have been. My brain processed thousands of images in that overtime victory. But in the midst of finding words to add to each picture, I found an answer for first-time hoops watchers wanting the definition of a “free throw”.

…”Nothing is free”.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Official Pro-Day results

As promised, here are the official numbers from USC's Pro-Day.
Click to enlarge:

Pro Day Southern California Style

The much anticipated USC Pro-Day has come and gone. Representatives for all 32 NFL teams were on hand to take a look at a big chunk of the draft class, and 5 possible first round selections.

The story of the day was linebacker Keith Rivers who continually wowed the crowd. Rivers was originally questionable for the amount of activities he would participate in, since he suffered a sprained ankle at the combine. That ankle appeared to be just fine, and Rivers ran 4.51 40 yard dash, and had a vertical leap of 42 1/2.

Quarterback John David Booty was nearly unrecognizable, completing deep passes to receivers in stride. I guess if Pete Carroll would have put him in games without pads, he would have actually been able to stretch the field. The forgotten Chauncey Washington has placed himself back into draft discussions regarding running backs. With a 4.3 in the 40, Washington achieved the best time of the day. I knew Chauncey was strong, but never realized he had sub 4.4 boosties in those legs.

Sedrick Ellis appeared 10 pounds lighter than he did at the Combine, and improved his 40 time to 5.01. Lawrence Jackson was put through linebacker drills by the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, as they consider him for a hybrid position, and Fred Davis ran impressive drills, maybe notching a spot late in the first round.

In all, there were nearly 2 dozen draft eligible Trojans on display, which is by far the most of any school. I'll update with the times and measurements for each player, once the official numbers are posted.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Davon Jefferson- What a difference a year makes

If not for the new NBA rule change that restricts high school seniors from jumping directly to the NBA, Davon Jefferson may have never worn a Trojans jersey. Davon, along with some NBA scouts believed his skills were polished enough to bypass the college game and mingle with the money makers. The rule change requires a player to be one year removed from high school, and Jefferson enrolled and played for USC, as he waited it out. He was joined there by another victim of the new rule, O.J. Mayo.

Now just one year later, and a freshman year under his belt, Jefferson has that option to pursue that NBA dream. And one year later, after experiencing college life and college ball, Jefferson states that his intention is to return to USC for his sophmore year.

I'm not sure what the NBA hopes were, when installing this rule. Maybe it was to give young men an opportunity to improve their games and mentally mature before stepping on the professional hardwood. Maybe they felt a year of college would allow these high schoolers to experience a part of the growth process that other NBA legends experienced, and realize they were quick to judgment, and more patient than their initial feeling. But whatever it is, it worked, in the case of Davon Jefferson, and Tim Floyd will have at least one star returning next season.

O.J mayo still hasn't made his intentions clear, since USC's first round bounce from the NBA tournament. In the final week of the regular season, Mayo announced a return. But in post game tournament conversations, Mayo seemed more undecided. As much as I would love to see Mayo stay to improve his game and continue the Trojan fight, I can never fault a kid for accepting wealth over the penniless world of college ball. Why undergo the scrutiny for accepting game tickets from Carmelo Anthony, when you can enter the venue from the players entrance.

Up north, the Lopez twins have made their decision, and will forgo their senior year at Stanford to enter the NFL draft. That's one Pac 10 power taking a hit, and I'm still waiting to see which of those Bruins decide to stay or go, once their tournament run is over.

DOH-mer Of The Week- ねり粉! (Batter up!)

As a lifelong baseball fan, I’ve just witnessed the greatest foul. It has nothing to do with needles and enhancing player performances, but everything to do with playing outside the lines. As a fan, there are several dates on a baseball calendar that are special, and Major League Baseball just deprived fans in Oakland of one of them, which is opening day.

For me, opening day was always that afternoon game. Parents call in sick to work, you play hooky from school, and the family rushes out to the ballpark to welcome back their beloved veterans, and say hello to the new faces prepared to make a run at the pennant. When baseball decided to open the season earlier for 2 teams, and play that game in foul ground (Japan), it was like being hit with a Louisville slugger, accompanied by feelings of desertion and abandonment. One of my personal possessions was stolen and sold on the black market for others to enjoy. After seeing the Red Sox play the A’s in Tokyo, all I could do was ask myself…“what’s next, fan appreciation day in f*cking India?!?!”

I realize baseball, like America’s other major sports, is a business. The main goal of every business, such as Walmart, McDonalds, etc, is to become global. But I honestly couldn’t give a $h!t about the Japanese buying my burgers or fruit of the looms. What happens when they come bidding to purchase my team? Well, my Dodgers are a money maker, so I like my chances of surviving international ownership, but what about those struggling franchises? Baseball had trouble giving away the Montreal Expos, so suppose a foreign investor came knocking. Why wouldn’t they? They’re already selling the product overseas. The “Mitsubishi Marlins” has a nice ring. Doesn’t it?

The bottom line is, teams that the DOHmers are serving up to foreign lands were built and survived on the money of the American fans. This is money that not only came from your pocket, but from your father’s, and his father before him. Industry has been jumping our borders faster than fugitives on the run, and the American people are quick to voice their opinions on that…so why not see it for what it is? When baseball opens on foreign soil, it’s a reality check that enables us to see it for the business that it is. Our blue collar workers are screaming to “buy American”, but the league is purchasing foreign players. The comparison is lost, because Baseball is viewed as a sport and not a business. And now, with this opening day in Japan, we’re not only purchasing foreign products, we’re selling America. We’re selling that little bit of something that I actually called “my own”.

My list of special baseball dates would include, opening day, the all star game, any playoff or World Series appearances for my home team, and fan appreciation day. Oakland fans can scratch opening day from the list, and the rest of us will have to keep watch of the remainders to be checked off. You don’t get two opening days, regardless of how some analysts will defend baseball’s decision. You only have two openers, if you are willing to accept the artificial, while another country receives the real product. I’m not, and never will, accept that.

I wouldn’t call Major League Baseball “DOHmers” for their business approach, but they get the tag for leaving America behind. Sell your product, with exhibitions or a regular season game in May, but don’t serve the Japanese dates that have always held importance to the American baseball fan.