Tagged with "Football"
Musings From The Hoodwood 1-27
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL NBA MLB College Football

RIP Mr, Cub†

Greetings from the Hoodwood where the flags are at half-staff for Mr. Cub

Coach K gets his grand victory

Iíve never been much of a Duke fan, I think they are the poster boy of the snobby ACC. I detested Duke for being the ones that the pundits pointed to as basketball the ďright wayĒ and how they celebrated when Duke stunned UNLV in the 1991 national semifinals in a game I still swear was fixed to give UNLV their comeuppance. The thing is as much as detested the school and program. I actually respected Mike Krzyzewski, he always seemed like a coach who actually believed in principles like staying in school. I thought for the longest time Duke didnít put up its 1990 final four banner because of how they got humiliated in the national championship but it was because one of the players didnít graduate. I found out later that the player. Alaa Abdelnaby did come back finish his coursework and the banner went up. But in any case, the more I read about Krzyzewski and his come up from humble beginnings in Chicago, and his yeoman like rise from coaching his alma mater to nearly being run out of Duke after a couple years, the more I respected him as much as I loathed the team that he coached. In any case, Krzyzewski has made himself a coaching institution and believe it or not been at Duke as long as Dean Smith was at UNC and has more wins he has 927 at Duke, and after the Blue Devils rallied smartly to down a plucky St. Johnís squad at MSG Coach K became the 1st menís coach in Div-1 to amass 1000 wins. Keep in mind, Coach K still has about 3 seasons to go to surpass Pat Summittís 1089 wins but he has a milestone that itís a testimony to his† great teams whom he was quick to put to the forefront and effusive in praise for. But also to his longevity, you donít coach somewhere 35 years without winning pretty consistently and he has done that in spades.

MLB changes leaders

As much as it catches me off guard to think Coach K has been at Duke for 35 years it makes me pause, but to think that Bud Selig has stepped down from his post as MLB commish, a job he held since 1992 makes me feel old. Selig has been MLBís grand poobah since the owners ran Fay Vincent out after the 92 season. He has had the job officially since 1998 when the farcical acting title was finally removed. Iíve never been big on Bud Selig, as Iíve always thought of him as a puppet for the owners as he once was one as owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. I also thought that his ideas for contracting two teams (one of whom were my beloved Minnesota Twins in 2001) was ham handed and smelled like a plot to take care of his daughter who was then running the Brewers but that plan fell through, the Twins got good, the Expos moved to fertile baseball country in Washington and Selig soldiered on. Now some of his ideas I liked. Interleague play, moving the Brewers to the NL and the wild card were good. Others like the steroid bumbling, the aforementioned contraction and the inane All-Star-home field advantage But Selig was the 2nd longest tenured commish behind the first to hold the office, the bigoted Kennesaw Mountain Landis. With Seligís retirement the mantle passes to Rob Manfred who has been the deputy CEO of MLB and by and large has the approval of the talking heads of MLB. Weíre hoping that Mann looks at further improving the game and will be his own man and not a puppet of the owners.

NBA: Kobe done for the seasonÖand for good?

This is a haunting refrain that is getting all too familiar. Kobe Bryant has played all of 41 games for the Lakers in the last two seasons suffering through injuries to his knee and Achilles but another injury, this time to his rotator cuff which will shelve him for the remainder of this season and will be the third time in as many season that Bryant will not finish the season healthy and leaves many to wonder will this be the last time we see the self-styled Black Mamba on the court. I think it wonít be, I think that Bryant will try it one more time. I canít see Bryant walking away from the game after an injury. I think Bryant can be self-absorbed and selfish as a player but he has a legacy of a winner and a tough customer. I canít see him letting an injury be the checkmate for him.

PHAT DAP\HEAD SLAP

Phat Dap- In Memoriam for Mr. Cub

In lieu of a phat dap, Hoodwood takes a moment to remember Mr. Cub. Ernie Banks. The player universally loved in the baseball and revered in Chicago passed away this past Friday at 83. One of the first players of color to play for the Cubs, Banksí infectious play and boundless spirit fueled the otherwise sad sack Cubs of the 50ís and 60ís, he retired in 1971 as the Cubs all-time home run leaders and is still 2nd but his 1636 RBIís are still team best. He was inducted into the baseball hall of fame on his first year of eligibility in 1977. His catchphrase ďLetís Play TwoĒ was his enduring symbolism of his love for the game. The Cubs family have lost one of their greats, and the whole baseball and sports world grieves with them.

Head Slap

To Russ Knight who works for the CBS affiliate in Phoenix and was hired by the NFL as an assistant frequency coordinator for the Super Bowl festivities going on in the Valley of The Sun. Knight was given highly coveted All-Access Super Bowl credentials for his job. Rightly excited he took a picture and posted it on Facebook. That was a no-no. The NFL contacted him immediately and told him that his credentials would be revoked since there would be a slim but realistic chance that the picture of the credential could be zoomed in on can be duplicated. Considering how tight security is for the Super Bowl nowadays itís not surprising that the NFL is so strict on posting pics especially of its prized credentials. Knight for his part took ownership of his goof blaming no one but himself. But he still gets a head slap for wasting a golden opportunity to be at the yearís biggest game.

Quick Hits

The Pro Bowl really needs to go back to Hawaiíi and after the Super Bowl

The NHL All-Star was in Columbus and in a way Iím sad I missed it but 29 goals? Thatís too much

The Yanks donít want to pay A-Fraud his bonuses. Yíall act like you didnít know???

Richard Sherman is the best corner in the league and doesnít like inane questions about it

Doing away with defensive shifts, hereís a tip hitters should hit Ďem where they aint

Now the CFP wonít budge on their datesÖdid you think that they would give up their valuable cash cow dates?

Wrapping up Sunday's Basketball Action
Category: User Showcase
Tags: BostonCeltics BostonCollegeEagles Football Basketball TennesseeLadyVols BostonCollegeEaglesBasketball MissouriStateWomensBasketball

Before checking out for the next couple of days thanks to the Snowpocalypse, I thought I'd take the time to wrap up the action from Sunday afternoon and evening featuring the basketball teams I follow.

There is one bit of non-basketball action to mention first though. The Boston College football team will be looking for another offensive coordinator before the start of next season. After two seasons in the job, Ryan Day has left to join the Philadelphia Eagles as the team's new QB coach. He replaces Bill Musgrave in that position.

BOSTON CELTICS

The Celtics were down big in their game against the Golden State Warriors but managed to rally back to cut the lead down to 3 points. But they couldn't get any closer than that and ended up on the losing end of a 114-111 final score. The loss drops them to 15-27.

The Warriors got 31 points from Klay Thompson while Stephen Curry added 22 points and 11 assists to help them edge out the Celtics.

As for Boston, they got 26 points and 9 boards from Jared Sullinger (see below) to power their offense.

Evan Turner (see below) added 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists (with four turnovers). Tyler Zeller came up with 15 points and 5 rebounds while Avery Bradley tallied 15 points as well.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Hartford Hawks - Hartford turned the ball over 21 times on the way to an 82-58 loss to America East opponent Albany. Point guard Deanna Mayza led the team with 8 of those turnovers and Janelle Harrison had 6.

But turnovers were only half of the big two of problems facing the Hawks in this game. After trailing by just three points at halftime, they got used and abused in the 2nd half. Their defense on Albany's Shereesha Richards (39 points) and Imani Tate (30 points) was almost non-existent it would seem.

Amber Bepko led the scoring for Hartford with 14 points and Alyssa Reaves added 12 points. Hartford falls to 10-11 on the season with a 4-3 conference record.

Tennesee LADY VOLS - The Lady Vols managed to pull out another conference win on Sunday, beating Georgia 59-51. They improve to 17-3 (7-0 SEC). The win came about thanks to a 95% shooting night at the foul line and a 45-29 edge in rebounding. Those numbers offset their poor shooting night from the floor (34%) and the team's 18 rebounds (Georgia only had 14 turnovers).

Jordan Reynolds (shown 1st) had a career high 15 points. Ariel Massengale (shown 2nd) added 10 points and 6 boards. Isabelle Harrison (shown 3rd) finished the game with 9 points and a team high 9 boards.

Missouri State - The Bears (8-10, 5-2 MVC)†stomped Illinois State 58-35 to capture their fourth win in a row. In getting the victory, the team set a home arena record for points allowed. They gave up just 15 points in the second half.

Kenzie Williams (pictured 1st) scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead the team's offense. Tyonna Snow (pictured 2nd) and Lexi Hughes each finished with 9 points.

Boston College Men - The Eagles had to hold off a late flurry of offense from Georgia Tech but narrowly got their first ACC win of the season 64-62. BC shot 59.1% from the floor in the 2nd half. They had†rely almost exclusively on their starters for offense. The bench managed just 5 points in the game.

Olivier Hanlan (see below 1st)†led Boston College with 25 points and 7 boards. Patrick Heckmann (below 2nd) added 12 points and Aaron Brown (shown 3rd) chipped in with 11 points. Will Magarity (shown 4th) finished the game with 9 points and 5 boards.

You can see highlights from the game below.

Preseason Versus Final Rankings
Category: NCAA
Tags: Arizona Boise St. College Football Georgia Tech LSU Marshall Mississippi St. Missouri Notre Dame Oklahoma Predictions S. Carolina Stanford

lege Football, Rankings Commentary on January 24, 2015 at 4:38 PM

The Broncos were the highest finishers among unranked teams in pre-season.

The Broncos were the highest finishers among unranked teams in pre-season.

I'm including the Horned Frogs since most people had them even higher at the end.

Iím including the Horned Frogs since most people had them even higher at the end.

I havenít noticed any major media organization that does this. I guess they just want to be able to come out with new preseason rankings in six or seven months and have people accept them. Surely, I suppose they think, people will have forgotten last summer by then; but they might not forget something six months before, so best not to remind them. I think itís fun though, so Iím doing it.

Some of these differences are owing to differing philosophies. I think Sagarin is just based on accumulating recent rankings. Sports Illustrated and the polls are mostly based on predictions; but sometimes there is deference to teams that did well last year even if maybe they shouldnít be expected to do well in the coming year.

What I mostly do is look at who I think will be the best teams right away, so Iím a little more interested in returning starters, and of course I also take into account last season. If a 1-win team has 23 returning starters next season, you wouldnít expect them to finish with a winning record; and if one of the top teams this year had only 10, they might finish in the top 10 again. But when in doubt, Iím going to go with the team that has proven more in the last year or two and has more returning starters. If a team has very few, I count recent seasons for less. Thatís why Oklahoma St., for instance, was not a team I ranked.

Final Top 25

Here are my Preseason Rankings. I also did an SEC West Preview.

The teams are listed in order of how they finished in my final rankings.

Preseason ranks: mine, Sports Illustrated, Sagarin, AP, Coachesí

1. Ohio St. 9, 4, 10, 5, 6
Even when I heard about Braxton Miller, I didnít move the Buckeyes down. I had a feeling this would be a very good team with 12 returning starters and one or two players wouldnít make a difference. So even though I didnít put them very high, I think I used sound reasoning. Also, when I do preseason rankings, I have a skeptical stance toward untested players, and itís not quite as much about potential as how much they have to start the season. The loss came pretty early.

2. Florida St. 1, 1, 3, 1, 1
There just wasnít a compelling case to drop FSU down after last season. None of the other contenders stood out, and there really wasnít an impressive team overall on the field either.

3. Oregon 3, 8, 2, 3, 4
I canít complain about my pick here. The Ducks had the highest number of returning starters among teams that were ranked after 2013, so I was not shocked to see them in the title game.

4. Alabama 4, 2, 1, 2, 2
I didnít have Alabama first in the SEC, I had Auburn. Thatís not how it worked out, but Alabama was actually less dominating in most games than I thought they would be. They just won all but one in conference.

5. Boise St. NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
I thought the Broncos might be done with these seasons given the fact that coaches keep leaving, but few apart from maybe some Marshall fans can argue they werenít the best non-P5 team this year.

6. TCU NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
I thought the Horned Frogs might bounce back, but I was thinking maybe 7-5 or 8-4 instead. Iím not sure whether to give them credit or the rest of the conference blame.

7. UCLA 7, 5, 21, 7, 7
The Bruins finally had the top-10 season weíve been promised a few times in the past. I mostly only put them this high because I couldnít find other teams that were very compelling, but like I said earlier, that turned out to be the case in reality, so thatís why I got this one right.

8. Michigan St. 13, 6, 19, 8, 8
I couldnít tell how much of the preseason buzz was based on the previous year or based on how good they really seemed. Looking back though, none of the results of their games were different than I projected based on my ratings. I did think they might lose to some lesser team, so I guess Iíll give them credit for surpassing my expectations in that regard.

9. Marshall NR, 25, NR, NR, NR
Credit to SI here for ranking them at all. It didnít even occur to me to rank a CUSA team, to be honest.

10. Georgia Tech NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
Like I had started to explain with Ohio St., I think to an extent, you have to look at how good teams likely are relative to one another at that point. Georgia Tech really wasnít that good early in the season. They struggled with Tulane (early on anyway) and Georgia Southern and seemed dead in the water against Virginia Tech, but they kept getting better, and it seemed like they were a much better late-game team than they possibly ever were before under Paul Johnson.

11. Missouri NR, 22, 13, 24, NR
12. Baylor 22, 10, 15, 10, 10
These two are pretty much the same for me, so Iíll cover them together. I just thought they had one-off seasons in 2013. I didnít anticipate that the two coaches would be able to ďreloadĒ so well. Missouri did lose the early game to Indiana and got blown out by Georgia, but they matured in a hurry after those setbacks. Baylor didnít have early losses like that, but they did only have 9 returning starters, so 22 was high in light of that, at least from my perspective. Usually teams like that donít come anywhere close to the successes of the previous version even though they get preseason rankings elsewhere.

13. Georgia 6. 12, 16, 12. 12
All the people who had them #12 did pretty well. I was right about how good they could be but wrong about how bad they could be. I would have never expected them to lose to South Carolina and Florida knowing about those two teams what I know now. Even though I had Auburn so high, I mentioned in the preseason that this was one of the games that might cause Auburn to have trouble winning the SEC West. I mentioned the Missouri game, but Auburn was an even more impressive big win at the time.

14. Wisconsin NR, 15, 9, 14, 14
I was surprised that Wisconsin ended up so high. I thought they would be more similar to last yearís team. But in my defense, they didnít start out so well. On paper, they didnít have much to start the season, which I think was an accurate understanding.

15. Ole Miss 16, 18, NR, 18, 19
I did a good job on this one. I didnít expect them to make an appearance in the top 5 in the first place. This is an improving program though, so I donít expect them to be an easy win in the SEC very often going forward either.

16. Mississippi St. NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
They were too mediocre in 2013 for me to seriously consider them for the top 25, but as I had mentioned in my SEC West preview, I thought they could beat some of the better SEC teams, which they did. So I wouldnít say I was shocked here, I was just more reserved in the preseason.

17. Arizona NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
I honestly didnít even consider the Wildcats. They had a number of teams with potential in the recent past and they all tended to fizzle, so I was most surprised to see them in the top 20.

18. Clemson 12, 16, 17, 16, 16
I thought there would be a second ACC team in or near the top 10, but I was wrong about which one.

19. Arizona St. NR, 19, 14, 19, 18
I remained skeptical about the Sun Devils based on so many seasons where they were supposed to have a good team and either didnít at all or were wildly inconsistent. They were among the last teams I eliminated though.

20. USC 11, 17, 12, 15, 15
Where I picked them was a little ambitious, but where I dismissed teams with potential before, I thought USC would be more immediately good. This was not a good team to start the year though.

21. Auburn 2, 7, 24, 6, 5
Auburn was a disappointment in the end, but they were one of the best teams in the early going. They really should have beaten Alabama and Wisconsin later in the year. I think sometimes what happens is a team goes from competing for a national title to just trying to make a decent bowl and itís deflating. Whereas another team that was mediocre the previous season would be excited to be ranked and so forth.

22. Colorado St. NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
Like Marshall, this wasnít a team I looked at or considered.

23. Kansas St. NR, 21, 18, 20, 21
I think I was justifiably cautious about the Wildcats. Had the Big XII been more than a couple of teams deep, I donít think they would have finished this high.

24. Northern Illinois 25, NR, NR, NR, NR
For some reason, you get a bunch of flak for picking a small-conference team to perform similarly as in recent years, whereas other teams who have very little coming back are ranked with no one batting an eye. I have to admit I feel somewhat vindicated here.

25. Memphis NR, NR, NR, NR, NR
See Marshall and Colorado St.

Top 5 Unranked Busts

36. Oklahoma 5, 3, 6, 4, 3
The Sooners made the cover of Sports Illustrated for the preview issue and received 4 first-place votes between the two major polls. They did look a little bit better early, but they just didnít seem to improve from how good they were in September.

49. South Carolina 8, 11, 8, 9, 9
They only showed a glimpse of the team they were supposed to be when they beat Georgia. This is a reminder going into next season that if you donít have leadership (they lost their top defensive and offensive players after 2013), you donít have much.

32. Stanford 15, 9, 4, 11, 11
Maybe I should have been more pessimistic here, but they didnít finish that far outside the top 25. Still, Iím glad I wasnít tempted to rank the Cardinal in the top 10. I looked at them as a similar team to Baylor, and for whatever reason, Baylor had a great season and Stanford didnít.

30. LSU 10, 14, 7, 13, 13
In my defense, I had LSU fifth in the conference. I had trouble judging which SEC teams would be better than which other teams. I was very disappointed with both coordinators overall. I donít want to be sour grapes about former DC Chavis, but I expected better based on his very good years at LSU, especially before 2013. I think OC Cam Cameron may have forgotten how to develop a teenage quarterback rather than one well into his 20s as NFL starting quarterbacks typically are. LSU could have very easily won 11 games this year based on talent, but they also could have missed out on a bowl game entirely due to failures to close out games. I said the winner of LSU/Alabama would be the most likely SEC champion, so at least that part was true. Had LSU closed out that one and beaten Arkansas, they would have at least tied for the West title.

33. Notre Dame NR, 13, 20, 17, 17
I havenít addressed the Music City Bowl in depth yet, but people who think that justified a top-25 ranking for the Irish are insane. Arkansas beat LSU 17-0 late in the season and since then beat up on Ole Miss and Texas, losing only to Missouri in a close game. Arkansas didnít have a defensive stop over a touchdown gifted to them against LSU, and LSUís defense didnít just roll over on third downs time and time again. Also, somehow, Notre Dame made LSU look like a point-scoring machine at times. Anyway, I feel very justified in not ranking the Irish in preseason and in recognizing them as a bust now.

Other Disappointments

Mine: (14) Central Florida, (19) Texas, (20) Michigan, (21) Louisville, (23) Florida, (24) Duke
Michigan was the only bad team of the group, but they shouldnít have been a bad team at all. I think Texas is improving but will take another year. Florida and Duke were good teams at times but inconsistent. Central Florida nearly beat Penn St. for the second consecutive season but somehow lost to Connecticut for their only conference loss. Louisville may have been about right had they won the bowl game.

SI: (20) Texas A&M, (23) Oregon St., (24) Nebraska
Nebraska and Texas A&M were by no means horrible and might have been a couple of bounces of the ball from being ranked, but I donít know where Oregon St. came from. I know they beat Arizona St., but that was one bright spot in dismal year. In fact, it was the Beaversí only win of their last 7 games. Their BEST win was at home over San Diego St. I still donít understand Nebraskaís hiring of Mike Riley, by the way.

Sagarin: (5) Oklahoma St., (11) Texas A&M, (22) Washington, (23) Texas, (25) Florida
Iím not sure how Saraginís preseason rankings work, but I think itís mostly based on performances in recent years. Texas and Florida in particular would not have been surprising had the finished with those rankings. Oklahoma St. of course is ridiculous looking back, but it wasnít too long ago that the Cowboys nearly made the title game, and in 2013 they were again one of the best teams in the country before dropping the last two games (Bedlam and the Cotton against Missouri). Like I said above, having A&M ranked wasnít far-fetched, but of course #11 was a bit high to say the least. Washington never really clicked, but there was no shame in having them near the bottom of the top 25 in preseason. They made a bowl at least and played some competitive games against good teams. In fact, their only regular-season losses were to teams that were ranked at the time. Among those, only Stanford finished unranked.

Polls: (21, 20) Texas A&M, (22, 22) Nebraska, (23, 23) North Carolina, (25, 25) Washington, (NR, 24) Texas
I covered everyone but North Carolina above. I have no idea why they were ranked.

For the record, here are my final rankings of the teams in this section:
26. Nebraska
27. Louisville
31. Texas A&M
41. Florida
46. Duke
57. Washington
58. Oklahoma St.
59. Central Florida
63. Texas
65. Michigan
70. North Carolina
89. Oregon St.

Anyway, Iím sure Iíll have upcoming posts about other sports and sporadically football, but like I referenced above, weíre about halfway to the next preseason rankings, so I plan to have a lot to say then.

Just as a reminder, my blog homepage †(where I first post my blogs) can be found above and I'm also on Facebook†and Twitter @TheBayouBlogger.

Musings From The Hoodwood 1-20
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: NFL College Football NBA

Kearse's lone catch of the game sends the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl

Meanwhile Brady and Belechick gear up for their 6th Super Bowl together

Greetings from the Hoodwood where we continue to honor the memory and †enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

NFL: Super Showdown Set

Now there are two and for only the 6th time since the current format was instituted in 1990 the NFLís two top seeded teams have made it through to the Super Bowl. This doesnít happen as often as you would think it does. In fact Before the seeding was introduced it happened 9 times in the 20 seasons from the merger to 1989. But the Patriots and Seahawks made it through the playoff minefield to the 49th edition of the ultimate pro football game. The Patriots thrashed the Colts in the Championship nightcap to many viewers surprise who expected the plucky Colts to give the Pats a tough game. The Pats big game experience showed in spades from the opening kickoff and initial drive. The Colts looked just really out of sorts from the word go. Beating a pernially playoff jinxed teams and a team with a gimpy quarterback made the Colts look a lot more tougher than they really were. The 45-7 rout was one sided as the score indicated but now there is swirling controversy. The Patriots may have deflated footballs that the Colts used in their offensive series. If these allegations are true the Pats could face the loss of multiple draft picks. This would be another suspicion of taint on Belichick and the Pats that dates all the way back to spygate in 2007. In the earlier game the Seahawks had their 12th man crowd revved up to the point that seismographic equipment was brought out to measure their impact. The crowd though was quite docile as the seemingly gimpy Aaron Rodgers helped the Pack grind to an ugly 19-7 lead. But the Seahawks overcame a horrid game by Russell Wilson to rally back to take a late lead, when the Packers tied the game with a field goal the game became a super high stakes showdown. The Seahawks won the toss and in the words of the late Hank Stram matriculated the ball down the field until Wilson led a streaking Jermaine Kearse for a dramatic catch and score to give the defending champs a 28-22 win. The Seahawks became the first team since the 2004 Pats to defend its conference title. Ill preview the game itself next week.

Phat Dap

Vince WIllfork was driving home late last night after the Pats win over the Colts and encountered a motorist that had been in an accident and was on its side. Wilfork stopped and stepped in to lend a helping hand, literally. He reached in the overturned vehicle and pulled the driver who was later cited for DUI out of the wrecked vehicle with one hand. Wilfork then left without looking for any pub, Hats off to Wilfork for being on point with a helping hand

Head Slap

To the Cowboys fans (and Skip Bayless) who continue to whine about the non catch by Dez Bryant in the Cowboys loss to the Packers in the divisional round. He didnít catch the damn ball, and the Pokes lost. GET OVER IT!

Quick Hits

Max Scherzer gets paid Kershaw money is he worth it

Coach K on the precipice of 1000 wins, has he really been at Duke 35 years?

The Hawks just keep on winning in anonymity

Jokaim Noah out and the Bulls are coming apart

The Knicks finally win one in 2015, they had last won on December 12th. Are they really that horrid?

†Im adding more to thisÖ

Sunday Musings #182
Category: User Showcase
Tags: NFL CollegeFootball YouthSports HighSchoolBasketball Olympics BostonCeltics CollegeBasketball

While wondering why anyone would think it is a bad thing to be known for "The Tuck Rule" (Tom Brady) as opposed to†a central figure who cut a deal to get out from under a double homicide charge (Ray Lewis, who should learn to shut the hell up.)...

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter - @TheOneTrueJay

In case you missed my recap of basketball action from the early part of the week, you can read all about it in my latest Mid-Week Basketball Update.

Oh and a follow up to one of my X-mas gifts arrived in the mail yesterday. I got the only available by mail order Bumble figurine from the 50th Anniversary Rudolph collection.

NFL

New England Patriots - Like most people in New England, I'll likely be spending my day in preparation for the AFC title game later tonight. It can't come soon enough because I'm a little burnt out on all the pregame talk. About the most exciting thing that has come out of the Patriots side of things this week was the low key and Belichickian response Tom Brady gave when he was asked about ESPN commentator Ray Lewis stating that the only reason "we" (the general public) know about Brady is because of the Tuck Rule.

Brady's response: ďYeah, Stacey [James, Patriots vice president of media relations] told me about that .†.†. yeah. Everyone has an opinion. I think Rayís a great player; heís a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I was fortunate enough to play against him.Ē

Somebody must've told Lewis what a jackass he was because he soon backed away from what he said with this CYA "clarification": ďTo clarify my comments from this week: I was trying to express my frustration about the Tuck Rule itself .†.†. Rules like that should not be part of the game,Ē Lewis wrote. ďThey lead to controversial plays that impact the outcome of games and thats [sic] what everyone Remembers, especially when you are talking about playoff games.

ďI have immense respect for Tom Brady and everything he has achieved in this game. He will go down as one of the all-time greats.Ē

The Colts have spent the latter half of the week dealing with the news of linebacker Josh McNary being arrested on rape charges. He was placed on the commisioner's exempt list and will not be active for the game. I know that the team will say that they are focused on the game in front of them, but you have to think that this news will at least occupy a fraction of their minds as they get ready to play.

Coaching Hires - There was a bevy of coaching hires in the NFL this past week and for the†most part, it is retread city. But while you might take issue with hiring coaches who have failed or simply run their course elsewhere, the new coaches have a lot of issues to deal with in their new posts.

Raiders - The Raiders hired Jack Del Rio away from the Denver Broncos. The biggest impediment to his success is likely that this is the Raiders we are talking about. They've been a joke franchise for years and there is simply no quick fix here. They've got a halfway decent QB to build around, but there are so many holes on this team, you hardly know where to begin.

49ers - After their ever more tension filled run with Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco promoted from within and hired Jim Tomsula as their new head coach. I will never be able to say I know all the ins and outs of a coaching staff, but I've heard of a lot of the various assistants throughout the league. But this hire had me asking WHO?

Tomsula has the rep of being a great teacher. He's going to have to be exceptional to figure out how to help the 49ers get back into contention. You've gotta fix Colin Kaepernick, and rebuild team morale. And Tomsula (in the middle in the photo below)†is likely going to have to deal with the perception that he got the job in part because he'll be easier for the GM and ownership to control.

Chicago Bears - The Bears hired John Fox to be their new coach just days after he got fired in Denver. While the Bears aren't quite as bad as the Raiders, this past season they did devolve so unexpectedly into a mess that firing Marc Trestman was pretty much necessary. Fox did a good job in Denver, despite the disatisfaction of not winning a Super Bowl with a loaded team, and I think he could likely reshape the Bears. But any potential success down the line will first require the coach and front office to make a decision on QB Jay Cutler. Cutler is a great QB on paper, he's got the tools. But he's the worst field leader since Jeff George and hasn't shown the least bit of interest in improving in that area.

Bills - The Bills hired Rex Ryan after he got canned by the Jets. And once again, Ryan "won the press conference". But you have to wonder exactly what has changed for the team or Ryan with this hire. The Bills have a new ownership that will be learning the ways of NFL ownership (yes I know they own the NHL's Sabres, but not everything carries over I would venture to say.), they don't have a QB worth a damn on the roster and haven't figure out how to get back to respectability in more than 15 years. And Ryan's stated "obsession" with the Patriots would be fine if it was part and parcel of building Buffalo back to a contender. Instead it rang to me as if he was more concerned about beating Belichick and screw winning anything else.

Let's not forget that Ryan hasn't exactly done wonders in developing players on the offensive side of the ball the last few years either.

Jets - The always in rebuilding mode Jets hired Todd Bowles away from Arizona to be their new coach. Everything I've read says that he's ready to step up to the big chair after years as an assistant. But given the wimpy ownership and front office that will have yet another new GM (after John Idzik was deservedly fired), you have to wonder how much support Bowles will have in New York. If the Jets are going to stick with Geno Smith at QB, they need to hire an offensive coordinator and/or QB coach that can actualy develop Smith instead of making him even worse than he already is.

Do you remember the official who was a key figure in that "Fail Mary" game from a couple years back? His name is Lance Easley and since that ill-fated call his life has completely fallen apart. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports wrote a lengthy piece about his this past week detailing Easley's PTSD diagnosis and everything else the now ex-official has been dealing with. You can read it HERE.

Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com had an interview with ex-Bengals coach Sam Wyche this week. He talks about the no-huddle offense and a lot more HERE.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

National Championship†- Congratulations to the Ohio State†Buckeyes on winning this year's championship. I had picked Oregon to win the game but I should've known better. I've said in the past that Oregon wins until they actually have to. I thought this year they'd change that opinion but I was wrong again.

Maybe Phil Knight should find a new school to pour millions into because he's never going to see a national title in football for the Ducks.

Ohio State will likely have a very interesting QB battle for next year. J.T. Barrett was having a fantastic year before he got injured and Cardale Jones started†the three games after Barrett got hurt and helped guide OSU to a title. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall in the coaches room for spring evaluations?

Penn State - A lot of strong opinions have been expressed both here on YouGabSports and in the sports world at large since the news broke that the NCAA and Penn State have brokered a deal to avoid lawsuit trials over the Sandusky sex scandal.

The main point of contention seems to be that the 112 wins the school was forced to vacate will be given back. This puts Joe Paterno back on top of the all-time wins list. You can read more HERE.

I know everyone that is pissed off about this decision has their opinion. For me, I realize that I'll be in the minority, but I'm glad the wins got restored. They never should've been taken away in the first place. What Paterno did or did not do in covering up the scandal had nothing to do with the games that were played during that time. The games were played, they were won and they were done so in a manner in accordance with the rules governing the games.

If Paterno was still alive and you wanted to charge him with crimes in a court of law, be my guest. But winning football games and covering up a horrific sex scandal are two entirely different things. The NCAA overreached in their punishment to such an extent that I believe Penn State would've easily prevailed in their lawsuits. The restoration of the victories is, to my mind, an acknowledgement by the NCAA that they screwed up and this is a course correction.

YOUTH FOOTBALL

Apparently the most offensive thing to a "good catholic education" these days is a girl playing CYO football. At least in Pennsylvania. The archdiocese of Philadelphia kicked Caroline Pla out of the CYO league in the middle of her second season, but she fought back and was allowed to play her final two seasons of eligibility. As soon as she was done, the league banned girls on the basis of moral grounds saying:

"Preparation for Christian adulthood likewise involves the development and encouragement of appropriate, dignified and respectful forms of contact between male and female students. The [Arch]Diocese therefore believes that it is incompatible with its religious mission and with its effort to teach Gospel values to condone competitions between young men and women in sports that involve substantial and potentially immodest physical contact.†Consequently, the [Arch]Diocese has adopted this policy prohibiting co-ed participation in the following sports: wrestling, tackle football and tackle rugby."

To this I say, are you freaking kidding me? Listen given the fact that the catholic church engaged in a massive criminal conspiracy to cover up sex crimes over the course of at least 5 decades, where do they get off telling anyone what is moral and what is not?

I was raised catholic, but much like George Carlin said in one of his comedy routines, I was catholic until I reached the age of reason (say about 12 years old).

Since when is a girl playing football a threat to the perceived notion of a christian adulthood? Appropriate, dignified and respectful forms of contact? Given how the catholics hate gays, why aren't they banning male on†male contact that occurs in wrestling, tackle football and tackle rugby. After all, we've all heard tales of what goes on in the big tackle scrums between all those guys...lots of immodest physical contact going on there.

I suppose the fact that I'm a big supporter of girls and women's sports is at least partially responsible for why I'm so irritated by this story ( which you can read HERE ), but I'm rather fed up with people who claim to be paragons of morality and actually aren't, telling anyone what to do.

Yes, I have huge problems with religion of any kind. But I'm a reasonably good and intelligent guy and I have to wonder with all the various problems in a variety of religions (terrorists, the Westboro Baptist Church and sex criminals masquerading as holy men), how is it that the biggest threat to what these religious persons of interest consider a morally upright life is a girl in shoulder pads and eye black?

OLYMPICS

While my opposition to a Boston 2024 Olympics remains, I thought I'd share this story about Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields. She was the only boxer to win a gold medal for the US in the London Olympics and she recently reveal the rather horrific circumstances she had to overcome on the way to that victory. Here's the story.

BOSTON CELTICS

Despite Joakim Noah being out with a sprained ankle, the Celtics still couldn't do enough to offset the firepower the Chicago Bulls brought to bear last night. The Bulls beat Boston 119-103 behind a 29 point 10 assist performance from Derrick Rose (pictured below).

The loss drops the Celtics to 13-25. Boston got 20 points and 8 boards from Jared Sullinger. He was one of 5 players in double figures for the Celtics but it wasn't enough. Chicago turned the ball over just 7 times in the game and got† 22 points from Jimmy Butler to help send Boston down in flames.

Brandon Bass (see below) added 16 points for Boston with Kelly Olynyk scoring 14 points and grabbing 9 rebounds.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

It looks like SMU's men's basketball team with Coach Larry Brown at the helm is well on their way to a big NCAA investigation over academic impropriety. You can read more HERE.

Boston College Women - The BC women were on the road to play Virginia on Thursday night, but they didn't make a good accounting of themselves. Kelly Hughes scored 14 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in the game, but she was the only Eagle to hit double figures in scoring as BC lost to the Cavaliers 68-56. They are now 8-9 with an 0-4 ACC record.

Tennessee LADY VOLS - The offense sputtered for most of the game (allowing for their lowest point total of the season), but Tennessee ended up beating Auburn 54-42 for their 11th straight win. They are 15-2 overall with a 5-0 SEC record.

Jordan Reynolds (shooting in the photo below) scored 14 points to lead the Lady Vols offense. Andraya Carter added 11 points and Cierra Burdick had 10 points. Isabelle Harrison scored 9 points and had a team high 11 boards.

Missouri State - The Bears beat Loyola University (Chicago) 87-57 on Friday night. It was their largest margin of victory on the road in 10 years. Kenzie Williams (pictured below)†was 9 for 13 (including 5-7 on three pointers)†from the floor to lead Missouri State with 24 points.

According to this newspaper article, it was the first game where coach Kellie Harper had a healthy roster, including the return of freshman Liza Fruendt who had missed the last 8 games due to injury.

Tyonna Snow scored 11 points and Hillary Chvatal (seen below shooting the ball) added 10 points and 9 boards. Rachel Schwarz finished with 10 points and 6 boards and Lexi Hughes dished out 6 assists.

Catholic University - The Cardinals beat Scranton yesterday afternoon 46-42 and improved to 12-4 (6-1 conference). It was just the 2nd loss of the season for Scranton. My ex-player Amber didn't play in the game.

Hartford - The Hawks knocked off UMass-Lowell yesterday 67-56 and got back to the .500 level at 9-9 (3-1 in conference). Cherelle Moore led the team with 17 points and 8 boards. Morgan Lumb added 13 points. Hartford did a solid job keeping the ball, turning it over just 8 times in the game.

Amber Bepko had 9 points, Deanna Mayza added 7 points and dished out 9 assists while Janelle Harrison finished with 7 points and 8 boards.

Boston College Men - The Eagle squared off against #2 Virginia yesterday and for a while, they not only hung with the Cavaliers, they were beating them. BC built a 38-33 lead and the watched as the highly touted Virginia defense shut them down the rest of the way. Virginia closed out the game on a 33-13 run to win 66-51.

The loss drops the Eagles to 8-8 overall with an 0-4 ACC record. They got outrebounded by 15 in game (35-20)†with no BC player having more than 3 boards.†The Eagles also†couldn't capitalize on the bad offensive night by UVA's Justin Anderson who went 0-8 from the floor, finishing with 8 points from the foul line.

Olivier Hanlan (pictured below 1st) scored 18 points and dished out 6 assists while Patrick Heckmann (pictured 2nd)†added 15 points. No other player for BC scored more than 6 points.

You can see highlights of the game below.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Bristol-Plymouth Girls Varsity - Savahna didn't play on Friday night (she went to the Celtics-Bulls game) against Diman Voke. Her team lost 51-31 to drop to 2-10 on the season.

Bishop Stang Boys Varsity - The Spartans lost to Martha's Vineyard 67-59 yesterday. Jake had 8 points in the game as Stang drops to 6-3 overall with a 1-2 conference record.

Wareham Boys Varsity - The Vikings beat GNB Voc-Tech 75-57 to improve to 9-3 (7-2 in conference). Josh scored 9 points in the game, Mark added 6 points and Ashantay scored 2 points.

Wareham Girls Varsity - The girls team ended up losing at home on Friday night†to GNB Voc-Tech 52-37. The loss drops them to 7-7 overall with a 5-4 conference record. Tieyanna scored 6 points,†Erica had 4, Gabby scored 3 and†Kali chipped in 2 points.†

Sturgis East Girls Varsity - The Storm picked up two wins this week to improve to 3-4 on the season. They beat Cape Cod Academy 40-27 and Isabella scored 2 points in that game. On Friday, they beat South Shore Christian 39-34 and Isabella scored 2 points while grabbing 5 rebounds.

Upper Cape Girls Varsity - The Rams beat South Shore Voke 43-15 on Friday night to raise their record to 11-0. Michaela scored 6 points in the game.

MISCELLANEOUS

Books - I finished reading the C.J. Box thriller The Highway this week. It is a stand alone novel outside of his Joe Pickett series. It was a weird and twisty ride that not only will you enjoy reading, but I guarantee it will make you never want to let anyone you know drive alone cross-country.

I picked up 3 new books as well. I got the anthology The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs because Peter David has a story in it. And thanks to an ad in Mystery Scene Magazine for the publisher Midnight Ink, I grabbed up the first two books in the Mark Mallen series by Robert K. Lewis. The books are entitled Untold Damage and Critical Damage.

TV - There's a new series coming to The CW on Tuesday March 17th. It's called iZombie and it is based off a DC/Vertigo Comics series. It is made by the same guy who did the Veronica Mars TV show and movie, Rob Thomas. You can see the trailer for the show below.

I picked up the newly released NYPD Blue Season 8 on DVD from Shout! Factory this week. So when I'm not writing or surfing the Net, you can be sure I'll be working my way through the set.

Movies - The Oscar nominations were announced this week and they caused a lot of controversy because all of the actors nominated in the lead and supporting categories were white. While I was surprised that David Oyelowo wasn't nominated for his turn as Martin Luther King in Selma (from what I've read he was fantastic, but I haven't seen the movie), I'm more than a bit tired of all the news articles complaining about the lack of diversity in the nominations and yet they don't provide any insight into what movies or actors they would take out of the nominations list or provide a compelling reason for doing so. All the complaining sounds more like they want some tokenism as opposed to true diversity.

And you don't see me launching a national campaign against the Oscars when the two actual best movies of the year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy only got nominations in the technical categories, do you?

Anyway, I ranted about that on Twitter, you can go there to see what I had to say in more detail. For now, here's the full list of nominations.

Last week, I wrote about seeing the movie Taken 3. This week, I bring you the Pop-topia.com review of the movie.

And last but not least, there's a new trailer for the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.

Music - I've got a couple of new music tracks for you to check out this week. I liked both of them. The first is an audio track only for the Halestorm song "Apocalyptic".

The second is the official video for the Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock track "Vigilante Man".

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